07 Mar 2013
- Written by Rashad Robinson
Slamming the NRA's racial doublespeak
The NRA pushes inaccurate and harmful messages about the black men and boys who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence, using race-baiting language that plays to deep-seated stereotypes of black males as criminals. By continually repeating the mantra of "drug dealers, gang members, felons," the NRA hopes we won't ask questions about how crime guns get into the wrong hands in the first place.
It's through relentless, profit-driven arm-twisting of state and federal elected officials – resulting in both the no-paperwork-required private seller loophole and toothless interstate trafficking provisions – that the NRA ensures communities struggling to reduce high levels of gun violence remain awash in guns.
While with one breath the NRA uses black males as a stand-in for criminality and scapegoat for the deadly results of its own profit model, with the next it finds a way to exploit the toll of gun violence in our communities, crassly proclaiming to be the lone champion for the "nameless" black victims that no one else cares about.
The hypocrisy of an organization dedicated to ensuring unrestricted gun access claiming to speak on behalf of families victimized by gun violence is deepened by the NRA's outright dismissal – as "media hysteria" – of the efforts of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin to speak out for their son Trayvon.
In perhaps its most naked abuse of racialized imagery and messaging, the NRA repeatedly appropriates the language and history of the civil rights movement, attempting to paint the unsavory quest to sell more guns with the brush of morality and natural rights. It's directly co-opted the struggle for human equality and dignity by the likes of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and unashamedly equates commonsense efforts to reduce gun violence with racial discrimination and the legal subjugation of human beings.
Now, the NRA is hyping its hire of a new contributor to "NRA News" intended to ensure that this deeply problematic take on race stays front and center in the national discussion about gun violence.
In an ad cobbled together from preexisting YouTube footage produced by "urban gun enthusiast" Colion Noir, the NRA is banking heavily on the novelty of a young black male spokesperson – who's willing to state that "the answer to the gun violence in the inner city is more guns," and "it's not a gun problem, it's not even a violence problem, it's a culture problem" – to lend the organization some much-needed credibility.
Unfortunately, Noir fails to challenge the fact-free, NRA-driven premise that a nation drowning in guns – and the gun violence that comes with it – is something we'll just have to adapt to.
The reality is that the ease with which guns are acquired by those who would do us harm, the ease with which ever more guns are trafficked into black and brown communities already wracked by gun violence, is the foreseeable and deliberate result of the NRA's profit model.
The NRA doesn't care about the rights or safety of black folks – it cares only about selling more guns to anyone who will buy them.
(Rashad Robinson is executive director of ColorOfChange.org.)