By Joshua Turner
Over the past few years, the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) movement has grown in the U.S and is now at the forefront of politics, but remains largely skewed in its advocacy. Much like most issues within the U.S., Black people are disproportionately impacted the most by this issue than any other demographic in this country. Although Black people make up 13 percent of the population we comprise 56 percent of all gun violence homicides. In our very own Baltimore, we’ve had 327 homicides, and out of that number, 291 are a result of gun violence, with no indication of slowing down as we approach the end of this year.
This is not a new issue within our communities but one that has persisted for decades and has only gotten worse over the years. However, the faces of the GVP movement are not representative of these facts. Although mass shootings make up less than 1 percent of all gun violence within our country, they are at the forefront of this movement. When these “tragedies” happen, our nation’s flag flies low, CNN reports on “a nation under attack,” experts on trauma and every resource you can think of is sent to the area, but when hundreds of Black lives are taken in Baltimore and Chicago every year, our nation’s flag flies high, victims are dismissed, and we walk down our blood stained sidewalks, proving that in our country, not all lives are of equal value.
The gun violence epidemic within the Black community has been caused by systems aimed at killing the Black body. The lack of support and work to address systemic trauma and uproot systemic abuse has brought forth a collective suicide of the Black body via the gun violence epidemic. As mentioned in my “The Black Experience” series with AFRO, the proliferation of lackluster education has shuffled our children to the barrel of a gun, d traffic stops are public executions, maximization scarcity has pushed us to kill each other to survive, we are trapped in our communities and trauma from acts of survival go unaddressed leaving our communities saying “my PTSD starting to kick in so I gotta get high”- Pop Smoke.
In our communities, gunshots are simply background noise or popularized in the latest songs. Death lingers closer than a friend called hope, giving us no reprieve from this reality and all of this goes unaddressed in the GVP movement.
The prevalence of the media disparity and the separate and unequal treatment of Black people in the GVP movement show that we clearly are not the “one more” that is being advocated for. I am not minimizing the trauma endured by those who have been impacted by gun violence outside of Blacks. What I am saying is that our lives need to be held in the same regard. True GVP requires attacking systemic issues, addressing education, economic deprivation and etc. It requires connecting with Black Lives Matter (BLM), NAACP, Education Reformist, and Prison Reformist to develop our communities.
I became involved with the movement to continue to demand that we become the “one more” that is advocated for and that the true root of this epidemic gets addressed.
Joshua Isaiah Turner is a community organizer, a developer, and a civil rights activist. He is the co-founder of Students Demand Action Baltimore, an organization against gun violence.
The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
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