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The Color of Money : How Skin Color Factors Into Victim Restitution


in today’s “bad news”….

I was reading a VERY long and involved article from the American Journal today that spoke on how victims are compensated after a tragedy.

We all know how it goes..

On 9/11 Americans broke out their wallets and a fund was created for the victims in the millions.

After the Newton tragedy, private donors made sure funds in the millions were available to help the families.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, again, the public climbed over itself
to donate online and directly to help the families financially.

The three women abducted by Ariel Castro have public funds donated to them in the hundreds of thousands by everyday people to help them “get on with life”.

I began to think about all the publicized cases of Black families victimized as well. No official fund in the millions to help the family recover, no special education fund for abducted brown children who have returned, no public outcry or special government commission about violence for them.

It seems that you have to be the right color for the public to care if you or a family member is felled by gun violence.

Buried deep in the article I found this lone paragraph about the disparity:

“Private fundraising for certain classes of victims, she says, “opens the door to long-standing biases.” Nowhere might this be more true than in Chicago. At the time of the Newtown tragedy last December, 270 children under 18 had been gunned down on Chicago’s streets during the previous three years. One was 7-year-old Heaven Sutton, who was hit by a stray bullet while selling candy outdoors a few months before Newtown. Her family asked for donations to cover the cost of the burial and even setting up a table at her memorial service. “If you think about a victim of gang violence, they do tend to be kids of color,” Goldscheid says. “Is there a sensibility that they are somehow at fault?” According to the Illinois attorney general’s office, the maximum a murder victim or the family can receive from the state compensation fund is $27,000. (Litigating en masse against the gun industry is no longer a realistic option since Congress passed a law in 2005 granting broad immunity to firearms manufacturers.)”

The Sutton family did not receive millions of dollars in support, or have successful fundraising campaigns. Simply because no one cared enough about her or the 270 other children killed by terroristic acts of gun violence.

When Newton happened, I became familiar with an organization in Harlem called Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. a group of parents that lost their children to gun violence. They turned their grief into activism and have created a support network for the real victims. Those left behind. They help with group counseling, financial and community outreach, working with the police to help parents get answers and with the youth to prevent another death.

I compared them with the groups of white women that were paraded
across my TV, claiming to represent a community and begging for legislation and of course money for the individual victims. These white women were awarded millions of dollars for fluff organizations that offer no real solution except hiring an administrator to see how much each family’s tragedy is worth. Because after all… There is no real gun violence threat in Newton. One sick kid is not an epidemic. And we all know the “legislation” jive is just that … the government protected gun makers from litigation.

Meanwhile the real soldiers are left
to fend for themselves in the battlefields of the urban streets, from
Chi-town to Harlem to Detroit. No money, no congressional hearings, no network coverage and the deaf ear of the public.

I don’t know why Americans value the life of a white child in the millions and that of the Black child as close to nothing. I believe all children are worth the SAME effort and compassion. All families suffering a loss should never be alone.

I joined the organization Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E because of that reason. We need to begin advocating for OUR children as well. Maybe if our children feel they are worth something to enough of us, we can stop one of them from picking up a gun in anger.

Validation of our worth as a people is what is needed to stop some of this madness.

I can only hope that enough of you MadMen feel the same.

To learn more about Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. visit them at

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