SINCE A YOUNG BLACK MAN'S DEATH on February 26, 2012, 666 men, women and children have been murdered in the streets of Chicago.
An overwhelming majority of them were also black.
Ever heard of Marissa Boyd-Stingley? She was a 19-year-old black girl who was shot and killed at a stoplight near her Chicago home during the early hours of June 25, the second day of a murder trial going on in Sanford, Fla.
"Why doesn't anyone care?" her mother asked in a story in the Chicago Tribune.
What about Darryl Green? He was 17 years old when he was gunned down on July 11 in an alley of West Englewood, another South Side neighborhood of Chicago. Not far away in Austin, an 8-year-old girl named Gizzell Ford was strangled and beaten to death the next day.
They were both black and both forgotten on July 13, when a man named George Zimmerman was found not guilty on charges of second-degree murder.
We all know the story. In February of 2012, Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community of Florida. The case gained national relevance as an issue of race relations, and when Zimmerman was acquitted, nearly every major news network discussed the verdict.
The controversial Zimmerman trial lasted 19 days, during which 40 people were murdered in Chicago; 37 of them were black.
Weeks after the shooting, even President Obama reportedly weighed in, saying that if he had a son, "he'd look like Trayvon." The rest of his quote -- "... all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened" -- is less reported.
It is also less reported that nobody has gotten to the bottom of exactly what happened in the deaths of Marissa, Darryl and Gizzell.
Mr. President, what of the seriousness they deserve?
Debate on our television screens and amongst our Facebook friends focused instead on Martin, and whether he was a criminal with a history of violent behavior or an innocent child who smoked a little weed; media sources battled over whether Zimmerman should be described as "white," "Hispanic," or my personal favorite amalgamation, "white-Hispanic."
As the national media hijacked a young man's death in order to generate higher ratings and more online hits, an intricate system of discrimination was oversimplified into an all-too-easily-digested white vs. black episode.
The deeper problems are much more difficult to stomach.
Even though many college students have the most empowering information medium in history on our cell phones, we eschew the autonomy afforded by the Internet, choosing instead to regurgitate the watered-down version of events fed to us by the talking heads on T.V. We turn away from the bloody mess in Chicago, where neighborhoods are segregated by racist realtors and hopeless public housing situations. We change the station when NPR's "This American Life" reports that, at Chicago's Harper High School, 29 current and recent students were shot and killed in 2012.
Instead, we call a biracial man white and show outdated childhood photos of the young man he killed; we choose good vs. evil, a journalist's wet dream, over the under-reported reality.
America must stop isolating racism into one incident, one sentence in our future children's history eBooks. One man's death is bad, and the hundreds of other African-American murders are worse, but we cannot let the underlying cause of the violence continue to run unchecked in our national institutions.
In Brooklyn's Public School 67, black and Hispanic children make up 90 percent of the student body. P.S. 67 received a D on its last progress report, one of many majority minority schools that fail to meet basic educational standards. And in our own nation's capital, three out of four young black men can expect to serve time in prison.
But why, why talk about the mass incarceration of African- Americans when you can bring on another Martin expert? Why bring up the plight of millions of minority children who may never even finish high school when you can make another clever Facebook status about Zimmerman's vigilante justice?
The media may never let us forget Trayvon, and we shouldn't.
But don't forget about Marissa, Darryl and Gizzell either.
R.J. Vogt is a rising junior in College Scholars. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.