Dear VISIONS community,
I’ve sat down to try to write this statement too many times to count now. And everytime … I can’t. Not because I’m at a loss for words about the ongoing and devastating toll that unchecked gun violence continues to take on our nation and our communities–I have many words for that. It’s because each time I sit and prepare to speak the names of the lives taken and towns forever changed, there is another breaking news alert, and the list gets longer. It’s almost impossible to keep up:
- I’m horrified, albeit not surprised, by the massacre in Buffalo and the racist and anti-Semitic sentiment that drove it.
- I’m appalled, and not unfamiliar, with the targeting of Taiwanese church-goers in California as they gathered in their community of faith.
- I am devastated with the violent slaughter of children in Uvalde, TX where, once again, a place that should have been safe for them to learn and thrive was turned into a death trap.
- I’m heartbroken about the callous and fatal aggression unleashed at the hospital in Tulsa, OK, where (as of the writing of this letter) there are still more unknowns than understanding of motive.
And perhaps the most painful reality is that with 233 mass shootings in the first 154 days of this year, there could very easily be another senseless act of mass gun violence before I press “send” today.
So what is there to say? Y’all know where I/we stand. You know why we do the work we do. Why it’s important to keep doing this work toward liberation, and not forget the anti-Blackness, pro-individualist, and pro-violence systemically embedded in our society. Not just implicitly; quite overtly.
There is no doubt that VISIONS condemns these inhumane acts of domestic terrorism fueled–explicitly or environmentally–by racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. We are mindful of the particular trauma and pain these incidents inflict on members of our community who identify as Black and brown. We recognize that the weight of this hate, lack of safety, and accompanying trauma is felt by marginalized communities, families, and children daily. We hold you in our hearts and continue our commitment to work toward a world without racism and hate in all its forms. Yet it impacts all of us.
“Justice for black people will not flow into this society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory…White America must recognize that justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
These murders are not just about a misguided loner, lack of gun control, absence of adequate mental health support, or how the media so rapidly disperses hateful ideologies. It isn’t just interpersonal and cultural. This incessant violence is also about white supremacist thinking aligned with systematic oppression. We need to focus on the roots of hate in this country. How far back do we need to go to heal? As long as communities continue to remain segregated, poverty continues to be endured, and toxic individualism is exalted, this cycle is bound to continue.
Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and throughout the weekend, people across our nation will #WearOrange to remember the lives taken (and those forever changed) by gun violence. At VISIONS, we stand in solidarity with the “Wear Orange” campaign because we know that our core values are key to dismantling oppression, AND also to creating safe, sustainable, and healed communities. We are steadfast in our mission and we recognize that these events are rooted in the cultural and historical inequities that we are dedicated to deconstructing.
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
— Angela Davis
VISIONS Executive Director
Click here to read more tips on handling your distress during the aftermath of these shootings in Buffalo, Laguna Woods, and other parts of the country.
Would you like support in holding a community conversation toward healing? Would you like support in seeing the beauty in our differences (instead of fear)? If you are interested in how you or your group can affect change using the VISIONS tools, contact us.