The Children Are Getting Hurt | Sojourners

The Children Are Getting Hurt

The ribbons began appearing months ago. Green, red, and black badges of solidarity are now everywhere in our neighborhood and in all black neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. The reason: Atlanta. The murders of now 23 black children (and two more missing) 600 miles away are being deeply felt here. The kids know what's happening, and they're scared. Both 2-year-olds in my house wear their ribbons all day and never want to take them off. One of them told me, "The children are getting hurt."

Those being killed in Atlanta are the poorest children. They live in the projects, the ghettos, and on the streets. They are young, they are poor, and they are black. That already makes them extremely vulnerable in this society. Now they are being murdered. The nature of life in Atlanta's poorest sections makes these children easy prey to those who would do them harm and makes stopping the killing extremely difficult.

The questions posed by Atlanta are deeper than the immediate ones of who is committing these unspeakable crimes or how city officials and the police are performing. The real issue is the vulnerability of black children and of all black people, not only in one southern city, but in every city throughout this country, where they are forced to live on the margins of a society that still refuses to grant them the most basic requirements of human dignity and justice.

Understanding the vulnerability of poor black children and of the whole black community is the key to understanding Atlanta.

Since the civil rights movement made some gains for black people, the issue of race has been moved to the back burner. The visibility in the media of the few blacks who have attained middle-class status has blinded most whites to the continued poverty and hopelessness of the masses of black people.

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