“Who really cares, to save a world in despair…little children today are really going to suffer tomorrow.”
That is a prophetic lyric in Marvin Gaye’s 1971 song, Save the Children.
According to St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department statistics, nearly 60 children have been shot this year in St. Louis, 16 of them fatal. The city leads the nation in child murders. The year is not over, and we can expect more gun violence. We have the power to change the tragic situation we find ourselves in. The rest of the year could be dramatically different.
As much as I love me some Marvin Gaye, I reject his notion that ours is a world “destined to die.” Still, his compelling question must be answered: Who really cares? Who’s willing to try to save the world, to save the children?
Two years ago, then mayor Lyda Krewson offered $100,000 as reward money for the unsolved murder cases of four children. The ages of these innocent children ranged from 2 to 10 years old.
I was critical of that action because it reflected a shallow understanding of a deeper issue. Some saw it as a desperate attempt to address the out-of-control violence that has no mercy for its small victims. Others were offended by the tossing of dollars at a problem that requires genuine sensitivity and serious examination.
The violence that has rocks this city must first be examined through the lens of humanity. Simply, Black people have the right to live. If that is believed, then comes the rest.
This includes human rights. The right to decent housing. The right to a job with a living wage and safe working conditions. The right to a first-class education. The right to a healthy state of body and mind.
These rights are not universally accessible because of the racist belief that Black people are subhuman and unworthy of a life free of trauma, discrimination, exploitation and violence. Unnecessary obstacles are put in place by racist institutions, laws, policies and behavior designed to maintain degradation and control.
If the 60 children who were hit by bullets were white, a state of emergency would have been declared. It’s all hypothetical because the relentless effort to keep Black people in their place was never meant for white people.
Black children are dying. Yes, the extreme finality of bullets is real and pressing. But they are also dying from lack of nutritional diets and accessible healthcare. They are missing opportunities for establishing quality lives because of inferior education. There are far too many obstacles in young lives that keep them from thriving and becoming healthy and whole adults.
We are adults with the power to make this world a better place for our children. If we really care, then let’s act like it. Act to save our children.