The Importance of Safe Spaces Where Survivors Can Heal, Be Creative and Live Free
Paris “Tree” Brown 2.28.2020
Good Kids Mad City works to prevent gun violence in underserved communities by creating safe spaces for healing, changing behaviors and organizing young people to advocate and lobby for progressive legislation that contributes to community revitalization, reparations, restorative justice and reducing youth recidivism and incarceration.
Most of our members are both survivors of gun violence and have lost loved ones to it. We found it important to work with Black & Brown youth voices specifically because we were being erased from the narrative around gun violence. We wanted to make sure that people valued our lives just as much as anyone else’s.
I know that as young people in this movement, we will get the resources and policies that our communities need in order to have healthy, safe & peaceful lives. We will help to end the systemic racism, inequality and patriarchy that fuels the violence happening in our country.
Working with Good Kids Mad City has been very rewarding, but I’m particularly proud of all of the moments when we’ve held safe space for gun violence survivors to heal, process, be creative and free. In this coming year, I look forward to holding elected officials accountable to invest money and resources in violence prevention.
Our communities are disproportionately harmed by gun violence because of the racism and poverty we face, but Black History Month reminds us of the resilience of Black communities and our determination for justice and equity. Because of Black History Month, we know our history and that we deserve better lives free from violence.
If I could offer any advice to activists in this space, I’d encourage them to know that their voice matters especially if they are at the intersections of several marginalized identities. And for the broader audience, I’d remind them that we’re building a movement of peace and justice — join us to tell the world that Black lives still do matter!
Paris “Tree” Brown is a 25 year old artist and activist from the west side of Chicago. He became an activist on July 1, 2012, the day he was shot and paralyzed. Since then, he’s incorporated social change into everything he does, including his music and his youth development work. Over the past four years, he’s run an after school program centered around drug abuse and violence, teaching young people how to research and analyze data on issues affecting their communities. As a member of Good Kids Mad City (GKMC), he currently cultivates restorative justice practices at Youth Connection Leadership Academy Alternative high school and other Youth Connection Charter schools around the city.