Among the many calls to action that the Newtown, CT school shootings prompts is a fresh look at social isolation.
Newtown is virtually all white and affluent. The same was true of Columbine and Littleton, Colorado, the suburbs affected by the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School.
Here are the demographics of those suburbs:
Newtown, CT: The racial makeup of the town was 95.14% White, 1.75% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.36% of the population. The median income for a household in the town was $90,193, and the median income for a family was $99,192 (these figures had risen to $101,937 and $119,175 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.
Columbine, CO: The racial makeup of the CDP was 94.82% White, 0.47% African American, 0.40% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.57% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.58% of the population. The median income for a household in the CDP was $71,319, and the median income for a family was $77,866.
On the flip side, we see children equally victims in segregated mostly African American or Latino communities where shootings are often gang-related -- sadly, the ubiquitous "white noise" (so to speak) of our if-it-bleeds-it-reads local media. (Except for a few brave neighborhood pastors, elected officials, or community groups, one hears little gun control clammor reported like we do after dramatic school shootings.)
It seems to me that we should add to the list of reasons for why racially and economically integrated communities are good for us is that open communities reduce the extreme isolation that incites violence.
Fair housing is a public health issue. This makes the need for inclusive and diverse communities a matter of urgency. Starting here at home.