Community-Sensitive Gun Sense

#WearOrange for children who regularly see blood on their sidewalks and graduate high school with a long list of personal losses to guns….as well as for those at the center of high-profile shootings. Tune in to Education Town Hall at 11 a.m. Eastern on June 2 for an important conversation on “Race and Gun Sense.” Check updates for more programming.

Please listen — and share — for the basics of #RaceAndGunSense:

Origins of “Wear Orange”

In 2013, students at King College Prep on Chicago’s South Side launched Project Orange Tree to honor their friend, Hadiya Pendleton, who’d been shot to death earlier that year. The original Project Orange Day took place on April 4, the death-anniversary of Martin Luther King, and included a fast to signify “eating with the dead.”

By then, news had spread widely – including to the State of the Union — about the fatal shooting of the 15-year-old Chicagoan on January 29, not long after her Inaugural parade performance here in Washington. And so Project Orange Tree grew far beyond the neighborhood of its origin. Since then, national organizations have adopted the #WearOrange concept for National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The first such observance was held last year on June 2, what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. The second national #WearOrange day is next Thursday.

Orange was Hadiya’s favorite color.

It is worn in hunting season to keep people from becoming targets.

Orange Goes National

#WearOrange efforts are increasing awareness of gun violence in this country and its toll on individuals, communities, and our economy. But much of the most prominent conversation is dominated by White experience, with an emphasis on mass murders and accidental killings.

This has dangerous consequences for communities of color whose needs are relegated to asides, or wedged into narratives which do not fit their experiences, and, therefore, marginalized in research funding and policy implementation. When the emphasis is on mass shootings, solutions look different than when the focus is on gun violence tied up with long-standing economic and educational woes and with strained relationships with police.

“Gun sense” advocacy, however inadvertently, frequently fails to address enormous racial disparities in experience with guns. And, most importantly for discussions in the education arena, this means that the national conversation too seldom touches on research showing that regular trauma and stress affects children’s ability to learn in the short-term and actually alters brain architecture in the long-term.

Recent research – from the Joyce Foundation, the Urban Institute, and the Joint Center on Economic and Political Studies – focused on “Guns and People of Color: Voices from the Community.” Researchers spoke with over 100 community leaders and hundreds of Black and Hispanic residents in several urban centers.

The resulting report tells us:

It is clear that communities of color have complex and nuanced views when it comes to the intersection of gun violence, race, policing and incarceration. There is deep concern about gun violence, and about responses to gun violence that emphasize aggressive policing tactics and -incarceration.
Guns and People of Color

Research participants also shared solutions that are not identical with those highlighted in much of the #WearOrange movement.


Community-Sensitive Gun Sense

This year on June 2, the Education Town Hall and other programs on We Act Radio are presenting an “Orange Out,” putting the needs and voices of those most affected by gun violence at the center of the conversation. Tune in June 2 to hear from educators, artists, community leaders and others who #WearOrange while also advocating for community-sensitive solutions.

Please consider the call to #WearOrange. But do so responsibly.

#WearOrange on June 2 for the 91 U.S. residents killed every day by guns.

#WearOrange for gun sense and to spotlight the NRA’s grip on lawmakers.

OrangeTintLogoBut also #WearOrange to remind neighbors that gun violence is — and has been for years – the leading cause of death for black males, aged 15-34. #WearOrange for children who regularly see blood on their sidewalks and graduate high school with a long list of personal losses to guns….as well as for those at the center of high-profile shootings.

Join us next week, June 2, to discuss #RaceAndGunSense.

For more background, please see “Orange Out.”

One minute on Race and Gun Sense to share


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