Why the Actions of One Black San Bernardino Shooter Affects All Of Us

Pictured: Cedric Anderson and his estranged wife, Karen Smith.
Written by Nikki Igbo of NikIgbo.com

On Monday morning, I felt that same familiar twinge of horror mixed with sorrow as I received a news flash across my computer screen. Once again, someone took it upon themselves to shoot up another school.

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This time, it was North Park Elementary in San Bernardino, a SoCal city still reeling from the 14 lives claimed during the 2015 mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center. Early reports indicated that two children had been wounded and two adults—one of which was the shooter—had died in a murder/suicide attempt. My heart ached for those innocent children somehow caught by the suspected mad man’s bullets and I sympathized for their parents thinking how worried and enraged I’d be if anything liked that happened to my son.

And tucked in my mind, behind all that I felt, I hoped that the shooter was not black, brown or Muslim.

The news continued to roll in. One of the children, an 8 year old, had succumb to his injuries while another 9-year-old boy was in stable condition. I cried for both families and called the shooter every type of cursed expletive I could conjure. The news mentioned the name of the suspect, one Cedric Anderson, and his intended target, one Karen Elaine Smith, and again I worried whether or not they were people of color (particularly black) or Muslim. I mourned for Ms. Smith’s family and friends, and for the far-reaching implications of her loss if she did happen to be black. I'd recently read an article on how having just one black teacher during the course of a black child’s elementary school years can significantly reduce that child’s probability of dropping out of school. News reports suggested that Anderson and Ms. Smith, newlyweds who had recently separated, had experienced a rocky, and possibly abusive, relationship.

Their names suggested that they could be black but the chances of them being white were just as great. At the very least they could have been an interracial couple with the Smith being black and Anderson being white. I didn't even want to consider the reverse. Suddenly confirmation of the shooter’s race and religion was nearly as important as the health and well-being of the wounded 9 year old.

I clung to the possibility of the shooter being white until photos of the couple confirmed that both Anderson and Smith were black. I was livid. I took to Facebook to express my anger and disgust. Every black person in America understands that the wages for their sins are much higher than those of a white person committing the same type of crime. Whereas a lone white perpetrator is singular in his activities, a victim of certain circumstances, and obviously plagued by some sort of mental disorder, a black, brown or Muslim perpetrator is always a fitting example of how otherness equates to criminality. And because of this, all people of color and Muslims will, in some way, shape or form suffer the consequences for the actions of one confirmed colored or Islamic idiot with a gun.

Anderson was a black abuser of women, a black killer of an innocent child, a dangerous black man with a gun. In the mind of every blond, blue-eyed God-fearing, good Christian citizen from America’s heartland, he brought every colored criminal and/or terrorist character in every episode of CSI to life. He underscored the necessity for coverage of others behaving badly on the nightly news. He represented exactly why the country needed to be taken back and made great again—him, Muslims, Mexicans and disruptive, belligerent Asians on United Airline flights refusing to voluntarily give up their seats.

Since 2012, Mother Jones, an independent news organization, has collected data on mass shootings in America between 1982 and 2017. Their study confirms that out of the 85 mass shootings that have occurred, 56% of them were committed by white perpetrators while 16% were committed by black perpetrators. A mere 8% and 7% were committed by Latino and Asian perpetrators respectively while Native American perps accounted for 3%. According to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive (a non–profit who studies gun violence in America), in mass shootings in which 3 or more were killed or injured since November 2014, less than 1% of these incidents were committed by Muslim perpetrators.

But we all know that the actual, irrefutable facts never matter in these situations. It only takes one Omar Mateen in an Orlando nightclub, or one John Allen Muhammad sniping on a Maryland beltway, or one Colin Ferguson at the Merillon Avenue station in Long Island to justify stop and frisk laws, the wall, travel bans, police brutality and a Jeff Sessions at the helm of the U.S. Justice Department.

I have absolutely no sympathy for Cedric Anderson. If he had fit the “most likely” prototype for American mass shooters, I’d still despise him but I wouldn’t have the additional worry of some conservative legislator being inspired to craft new “tough on crime” legislation which will undoubtedly make me, my family and scores of other people of color a target. But since Anderson belongs to the tribe of “those people,” I’d be terribly surprised if nothing legislatively reactive came of this incident. I guess we’ll all just have to stay tuned for what happens next.

Sigh.
Can anyone else relate to this feeling? Share in the comments section.
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Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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