“Your silence will not protect you.” — Audre Lorde
Let me be honest. Lately, it is difficult for me to watch the news, use social media, or even have conversations about all of the disenfranchisement and inequity that is continuing to take root in this country. There are so many polarizing issues—coupled with obstinate, divergent opinions—that it’s hard to have meaningful, fact-based conversations.
Because I am extremely disheartened by the lack of opportunities to have candid, solution-oriented conversations, The Woke Coach has partnered with The Coven to host TRIGGER TOPICS. The goal is to convene and engage in a series of conversations that give us the space and opportunity to talk about all of the issues that make our blood boil in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
We began the series on Wednesday, September 11 with a conversation that tackled the topic of gun control. We focused the conversation on mass violence and its effect on communities, the legislative process, law enforcement, and community engagement.
So what do we know? Unfortunately the year 2019 continues to be a harrowing year with regards to gun-related violence.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers:
There have been 19 mass shootings in the United States in 2019.
More than 10,000 people have been killed by of gun violence in 2019.
There have been six homicides in Saint Paul, MN (the city where The Woke Coach is located) since Labor Day. Over the course of nine hours, there were three shootings where three people lost their lives.
There have been 11 officer involved shootings in the state of Minnesota this year. For greater perspective, there have been 188 officer involved shootings since the year 2000.
Last night The Woke Coach moderated a panel featuring a phenomenal group of women who participated in a rich, engaging dialogue. The panelists included: Rachael Joseph, Founder and Executive Director of Survivors Lead; Wintana Melekin, business owner and community organizer; and Erin Murphy, former Majority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Here are some of the key takeaways from a very robust and far-reaching conversation.
1. Change your spending habits and change your affiliations (How are you supporting banks, brands, investments or other entities or products that support and earn profit from gun sales, etc.? Also, check out Guns Down’s campaign to divest and #BankrupttheMurderLobby).
2. Make your community your business. Know your neighbors. Engage with them.
3. Host a house party to raise funds or create awareness about political candidates or non-profit organizations that are engaging in the work of creating safer communities.
4. Know your elected officials. Contact them regularly. They work for you.
5. Support local organizations (like Survivors Lead) with your time and financial resources (if you are able).
6. Shift your perspective to center the voices of those who are affected by the issue of gun violence.
7. Remember to reach out to and support our neighbors that experience gun violence. Send cards. Check on them. Ask them what they need.
At The Woke Coach, we convene conversations and interactions and are intent on people leaving these engagements with actionable solutions. We create brave spaces for learning because we understand that we cannot continue having conversations as a substitute for actually engaging in the work, and we cannot engage when we have failed to strengthen our own analysis.
This was the first of many conversations to come. I hope that you will join us in the future.
Founder + CEO
The Woke Coach, LLC