A mass shooting in Fort Myers, FL., is shining a light on how the country reacts differently to atrocities committed in black neighborhoods versus white neighborhoods. Amidst the thoughts and prayers sent to southwest Florida are also condemnations, judgement, and concern-trolling for the parents and communities of the victims.
Club Blu, the site of the shooting, shut down their Facebook page while I was in the process of composing this article. From what I read on the comments of their recent posts, this was an inevitable move. The page has been flooded with people looking for someone to blame for the shooting, which is to be expected: we all look for a reason behind unthinkable acts. But much of the blame being thrown around is misplaced, ill-informed, or just plain bigoted.
Despite the fact that the identity of the shooter(s) has not been released, the consensus according to the comment sections is that the perpetrator(s) must have been black and probably a gang member, not a terrorist, not mentally unstable, and not attempting to make a political statement. This assumption seems to be because the shooting occurred in a predominately black neighborhood at a club with mostly black clientele. Sympathy for the victims runs short once people decide they were simply victims of “black on black crime” as opposed to those affected by an attack from ISIS, a person with mental delusions, or someone trying to send a message.
The nightclub was reportedly hosting a birthday party and the guests were limited to those between the ages of 12-17. Much of the response on social media has been a critique of the parents who sent their child to a teen night club, or specifically to a club night with the theme “Swimsuit Glow Party.” Nevermind the fact that teen nights at clubs have existed without incident for decades, it’s summer break, so parties tend to run beyond midnight, teenagers were dropped off and picked up by their parents, and wearing a swimsuit was completely optional and likely no more scandalous than what you’d see at your neighborhood pool.
Club Blu has stated that armed security guards were present, as is often typical of any nightclub. The shooting took place in the parking lot after the party had ended and teens were being picked up by their parents. There are no more facts currently, but that hasn’t stopped people from finding fault in the parents for letting their kids attend a teen function, black people for having parties that don’t involve bobbing for apples and accordion music, and the club for hosting an event past 10pm, which is apparently the time that guns magically stop working.
As many people scuttle around trying to find someone to blame, racists come crawling out of the woodwork. While white folks are busy criticizing the parents of the victims for condoning the party, other white folks are seconding that notion with a heaping side of bigotry. Using this horrific crime to bolster your belief that black people are violent, don’t care about our communities, are bad parents, or undeserving of sympathy in the wake of a tragedy is about as low as you can get.
Yet here we are, seeing another mass shooting. Only this time victims and their parents are at fault in the eyes of white on-lookers.