FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence

Each generation carries its own revolution. For years, gun violence has dramatically impacted communities around the United States and a movement for gun violence prevention has emerged to respond. Now, as we reel and rebuild from the results of the election, it is the time for a new generation of organizers to metamorph this movement into one that is intersectional, inclusive and diverse. Young organizers and activists have been left behind by a movement that has focused strongly on background checks but needs to also strategically focus on responses that address the intersectional oppressions linked to gun violence.

My experience with gun violence reflects this nuance. In 2008, my Peruvian host sister Tika Paz de Noboa was shot and killed while she waited on the street outside a nightclub in Portland, Oregon. A courageous, artistic young woman, a person of color, an immigrant; she was murdered by a white man who bought the weapon used to kill her from a gun show, evading regulation background checks that would have picked up on the mental health struggle that eventually ended both my host sister’s life and his own.

The layers of intersectionality in Tika’s case are clear; she was a woman, Latina, Spanish-speaking, and new to the US. Was she killed simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the gun show loophole allowed a gun to be purchased? Or was she killed because this man fell through the cracks of the mental health care system in the US? Was she killed because rampant xenophobia in the US created cycles of hate against immigrants? Was she killed by misogyny and toxic masculinity that drove this man to shoot this woman? Every circumstance of violence is unique and nuanced and complex; background checks will reduce gun violence but will not be effective without understanding the intersectional nature of the oppressions people face.

Nearly ninety Americans are killed by guns every day by a combination of homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Yet, when the statistics are desegregated, intersectional patterns appear. 77% of gun deaths for white Americans are suicides, while 82% of gun deaths for black Americans are homicides. Unarmed black men are six times more likely to die at the hands of police than unarmed white men. 53% of women murdered with guns in the U.S. were killed by intimate partners. Our approaches to gun violence prevention must be critically and continually aware of these differences and discrepancies. When we talk about prevention we need to address the root causes of gun violence, rather than act reactively to illogical fallacies.

In 2015, I was in Paris during the attacks of terror on the city. I was downtown when the attacks happened, watching the horror unfold. Police grabbed me, pushing me out of the train station, and I fled, hiding behind cars, shaking, and waiting to hear the shots with the people around me. Terrorist attacks occur in the US as well, at an alarming rate. 94% of these attacks are committed by non-Muslims, yet the media and our public outrage continue to focus on attacks committed by members of the Muslim community. Throughout the US and Europe we are witnessing policy-makers use these 6% of attacks, and fear-mongering techniques to justify Islamaphobic and xenophobic proposals. This plays into a cycle of discrimination, scapegoating, alienation, and violence with our wars abroad against predominantly Muslim countries and attacks of retaliation at home. Gun violence committed by members of the Muslim community is often driven and spurred by our Islamophobia.

Much of the gun violence prevention movement has responded by supporting and promoting an Islamophobic campaign, the No Fly No Buy legislation, which would prevent individuals who are on the FBI terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons. This list unfairly and indiscriminately targets innocent Muslim Americans. This campaign is bigoted and reductive and only fuels the hate that inspires attacks such as in Paris, Beirut, San Bernardino, and other cities. If we are serious about preventing gun violence, we need to ensure we are not isolating and discriminating against Muslim communities in America.

To respond to the intersectional and devastating nature of gun violence in America, it is necessary to listen to the experiences of all of our communities, including underrepresented groups such as black, brown, Latinx, immigrant, undocumented, LGBTQ, trans, veteran, and economically disadvantaged communities. Many of the currently proposed actions to lower gun violence rates do not address the specific issues of these communities. A strong example is the recent case of Alfred Olango, an unarmed African-American man with a seizure disorder who was killed by police in San Diego in September of this year. This man was not just a victim of the phenomenon of gun violence, but he was killed by racially unjust patterns of policing that do not value black lives, he was killed by the lack of adequate services available to those the US living with mental illness, he was killed by the oppression of low-income families in America, and he was killed by capitalist corporate greed that drove up the price of seizure medication to make it inaccessible to those without healthcare. The list goes on. If we are not addressing all of these oppressions and treating individuals as individuals within a flawed system, then we are not addressing gun violence. Millennials understand this.

It is time for an intersectional approach to gun violence prevention, in order to effectively keep all of our communities safe. A grassroots, millennial-led, effort is underway to discuss strategies available to counter the tide of gun violence. Strength in Synergy: An Intersectional Summit to End Gun Violence will bring together members and advocates from different communities and movements including gun violence prevention, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, domestic violence prevention, Palestinian human rights, faith-based organizing, and others. The event is an all-day summit at American University in Washington D.C. on December 10th from 9:30am – 6:00pm, the conference is free and registration is available at this link. All are welcome to build a new, inclusive, movement for human rights, safety, and human dignity.

More articles by:

Martha Durkee-Neuman is a gun violence prevention and reproductive justice advocate and organizer from Washington State, a student of Human Services at Northeastern University, and current co-producer of the 2016 Strength in Synergy Summit.

February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail