Why Are So Many People Wearing Orange Today?

wearorangelogo People all over the US are wearing Orange today to promote National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a day set aside to contemplate the damage done to our society by mass gun ownership and the gun culture that fuels the cycle. Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton was shot dead while taking cover from the rain, allegedly by gang members who mistook her for a rival. Who shot her is not so much at issue as the fact that is WAS shot, and killed, by a tool that has become the near universal way of solving problems in the streets of our cities and neighborhoods by gangs and police and private citizens alike. National Gun Violence Awareness Day is being observed and promoted by MomsRising and Amnesty International, among many others, in order for the US to take time and reflect on what gun violence and reliance on guns as a solution to social problems has done to our culture. This is not “take away all guns” day or “guns are the cause of all of our problems” day, it is a day to be AWARE of the nature of gun violence and how our laws, media, and culture help to promote it. This scares the NRA so much that it has gone out of its way to declare the entire movement “pointless”. Why would the largest Gun Lobby organization in the nation go out of its way to denounce a movement if it was, in fact, on its face pointless? The forces that want a perpetually armed and scared populace are themselves worried. They see the writing on the wall, so often in the blood of innocents, and it is telling them that their time in power may be coming to an end. What is gun culture in this country? Why does it seem to be so inextricably linked to race and racism? Gun culture is a phenomenon prevalent in middle class and upper class white men, and often women, and propagated by the culture and media controlled by the same. A continuation of fears/hatreds/interests that emerged from the chattel slave era of US History followed by the criminalization of black bodies from the Jim Crow to the modern era. A “sanitized” form of lynching that treats gut feelings, common knowledge of “the real world”, and a sort of pessimism about human nature regarding the inevitability and all encompassing nature of crime (mostly a property based frame of reference for crime i.e. property damaged, threatened, or made to be/seem less valuable by unwanted others, “your” daughter threatened, “your” family at risk). Lynching is not a thing of the past in this nation; it is less lynching violence overcome then lynching culture so well assimilated into the white American psyche that it has become an ethical stance and an accompanying way of living and seeing the world, a way that has been folded into the larger, ostensibly non-racist on the surface, “gun culture”.  Gun culture today is a new paradigm in the expression of the lynching impulse by white America against black America. It can be seen in the rates of gun ownership by white families (those who have the least to fear from crime have the most guns to protect against it), the use of stand your ground laws in circumstances where whites have shot blacks, the failure of many black citizens to be able to pursue a stand your ground defense, the rate of gun violence against blacks by the various police forces of the nation, and the vilifying in the media and the popular culture of black people who use guns versus the deification of white people who do. Gun culture is a white power culture, it always has been, and it will be until measures are taken to restrict unlimited ownership and use of weapons as a matter of course.


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