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Black History Month

Zalena Giles: Gun violence should not impede children’s futures

Black History Month

This Black History Month, we recognize the importance of Black leadership, advocacy, and resilience in the gun violence prevention movement. Throughout February, we’ll be highlighting the important work of Black Americans who are on the front lines of fighting the gun violence crisis in their communities.

Gun violence affects everyone, but I also know that statistics show that it disproportionately affects the Black community. Being a Black woman, married to a Black man, who has Black children, I feel that it is important for me to take a stance to protect my family, my community, and to make a difference for the future. I want my children to see that it is important to advocate for what you believe in.

After attending Wear Orange and a suicide awareness walk with Moms Demand Action in 2018, I learned more about what Moms Demand Action stood for and wanted to become more involved. I began volunteering, and three years later, I am now a Local Membership Lead for the Harford County group in Maryland.

I always think about how gun violence prevention can protect the people in the community and my family. I think about how people pass away unnecessarily every day, and it breaks my heart. I especially think about my kids, and all kids, and the world they are growing up in, the challenges that they have to face today, and what I can do to help their future and generations after. Gun violence should not impede their future. We can and should do better.

I especially think about my kids, and all kids, and the world they are growing up in… Gun violence should not impede their future. We can and should do better.

It is always important to be empathetic, whether you have experienced gun violence or not. In reality, most of us have experienced it indirectly, especially with the recent uptick of violence and racial inequality. We are all people and we have to support one another especially during traumatic times. We need to be forward-thinking and see how our actions and reactions will affect a person and further generations’ ability to heal from trauma.

In the past and present, it has been challenging to advocate for gun violence prevention in Maryland, but we keep showing up! Whether it’s speaking to our legislators, collaborating with other organizations in the community, phonebanking and texting for Gun Sense Candidates, or taking a stance on racial inequality during a pandemic—we have shown up! I feel that one of the keys to success for the modern gun violence prevention movement is sound leadership so that trust can be built between communities and leaders.

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