Naomi Wadler is only 11 years old — and she’s already speaking to an international audience about gun violence in America.
“I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” Wadler, from Alexandria, Virginia, said. “For far too long, these black girls and women have been just numbers. I am here to say never again for those girls too.”
Most gun violence in the US disproportionately affects black communities. In 2016 (the latest full year for which data is available), for example, more than 52 percent of murder victims (73 percent of whom were killed by guns) were black, even though black people only make up about 13 percent of the general population.
These deaths could stand to get more political and policy attention — because we know of policies, including gun control, that could reduce them. But as Wadler pointed out, they rarely do.
It’s hard to ignore the racial element here: The majority of Americans are white, and it’s possible they might simply care less about black victims. We know, after all, that racial biases make white Americans more likely to perceive black people as less innocent and as criminals, which may, in some people’s minds, make these victims more deserving of the gun violence in their communities.
So except for local news coverage and conservative political pontificating about black-on-black crime, the more common everyday deaths seldom get much media coverage and the public at large rarely seems to care.
For more on America’s gun problem, read Vox’s explainer.