Last Week, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel for a two-part segment on CNN’s morning show, New Day. It was an experience like no other, and I knew that this was not something that was going to be just about me, or my perspective on gun control. Being from Charlottesville, especially over the past few years, As a leader, I have learned the importance of being able to GIVE and RECEIVE support, equally. This is why I chose to center my time around the Black youth that have been doing the work for gun reform in their own communities. Below are some of my points that didn’t make the news.
1. Protest is therapeutically proven to reduce the results of trauma.
Comrades, I know youth that have been marching, walking out, and protesting in their own cities. They have not been met with smiles and million dollar donations. Instead, they have been attacked, ridiculed, targeted, and disciplined. Trauma is trauma, and students of color are historically treated as if their trauma is less than that of their white counterparts. We, students of color NEED to be able to deal with our trauma, because as of now, we are not able to. The state sanctioned policing of black bodies is arguably the biggest contributing factor to this inner city violence that we are seeing in big urban areas. (Don’t even think about blurting out the myth of “black on black crime”) Police terror and brutality is traumatic, and definitely well within the sphere of this conversation about gun violence. Black people, Black Women, Transgender people of color, Transgender Women, and Women as whole, are ALL disproportionately affected when it comes to the issue of gun violence.
So, I ask- how can we recognize trauma in a way that is equitable?
2. Let’s stop giving surface level solutions for situations that are deeply rooted in the white supremacy that this country is founded on.
(This pint gets all caps… and some snaps!!)
3. Stop blaming the arming of hate on issue of mental health
Mental health is a component, but not the only component. We need policy that will prevent these things from happening. I am talking about structural change in the way that policy making happens. We need a change in the landscape of lawmaking, and that is going to have to be bigger than just any one individual elected official. Overall, if we are taking a quantitative approach, the lawmaking landscape is flawed… but we knew that.
4. WE, Black Youth and Marginalize youth, want in on the construction of these conversations, not just a seat at whatever table it’s taking place.
It’s simple. If we assume that people do not have agency, then they are typically excluded from the conversation. This is wrong. We’ve been doing it wrong. So wrong. Youth of color want more than just 3 minutes at a march to energize the crowd. We are asking for support, solidarity, and ACTION.
5. Universal language and problem solving is harmful. We cannot always take a universal approach, because we know that disparities exist.
Marginalization happens when we try to take a one-size-fits-all approach to issues that have EVERYTHING to do with RACE, CLASS, and GENDER. Inequality and inequity is only perpetuated when we attempt to blindly solve issues in a way that does not address these disparities.
It is important that we push back against the “all sides, many sides” narrative that is pushed down on us from those in power. We must see things for what they are, call them out for what they are, and SHARE THE MIC. Youth of color want to be heard, and it is all of our jobs to make sure that they are.
Make it your business to Amplify the voices of black youth, and youth of color. As a whole. Gun reform is an intersectional issue, and until we are ready to talk about race, the conversation will never be complete. This window of momentum may not last forever, so now is the time to act in a way that is intentional and at the same time, beneficial to this larger movement for racial justice.
Peace and Solidarity,
Link to the second part of the CNN segment.