Karamo Brown, the Culture Guy from Netflix’s reality makeover series Queer Eye, walked amongst the estimated 800,000 protestors in the March For Our Lives yesterday in Washington, D.C. Afterwards, Vox released an interview with Brown in which he said that the national conversation on firearms regulation typically excludes black and brown bodies. So we wanted to take a closer look at the Karamo Brown interview and some of the statistics behind what he said.
The startling observation from the Karamo Brown interview
Brown said he went to high school with Aaron Feis, the football coach who died in the Parkland, Florida shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Despite the media attention that the Stoneman Douglas students have gotten over their calls for firearms regulation since the Valentine’s Day shooting, Brown said he’s surprised that most of the media attention has been given to white students, considering the school’s many students of color:
Something that I have been a little shocked about is the lack of media coverage of the students of color coming out of Douglas. As a student that came out of there, maybe 30 to 40% — I don’t know what it is — are either black, Latino or Asian. There’s a huge queer, LGBT student population. And I just have not heard those voices. That doesn’t take away from them. But I wish that the media would have decided that it was necessary for all voices to be heard right now.
During a live Q&A on Twitter on Monday, Parkland student activist David Hogg agreed with Brown.
Hogg said, “If this happened in a place of a lower socioeconomic status or … a black community, no matter how well those people spoke, I don’t think the media would cover it the same.”
He added, “We have to use our white privilege now to make sure that all of the people that have died as a result of [gun violence] and haven’t been covered the same can now be heard.”
And yet, while mass shootings tend to affect white people more, because they’re often carried out by white shooters in predominantly white neighborhoods, black people continue to be disproportionately harmed by gun violence.
The racial gun violence stats behind the Karamo Brown interview
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that for gun violence in 2014, black people died at a rate of about 17 per 100,000 people, while white people died at a rate of 10 per 100,000 people. The CDC also estimates that black people were twice as likely than a white person to be killed by an armed police officer. They’re also far more likely to be affected by deadly “everyday gun violence” on the street, violence that typically goes ignored by news media.
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While Karamo praised the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement for creating urgency around the firearms debate — remember, BLM first catalyzed in a response to the shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin — he says it’s unfair to expect the black community to work alone in ending gun violence in their communities.
“It breaks my heart that we put the responsibility on those that are being oppressed to lift themselves out of that oppression,” Brown said, “but it’s what made us strong as communities.”