Thought About Race and Guns in America

I'm heartbroken that there is so much hatred and violence happening back in the US.

I'm not an expert, and I'm aware (thank you Sociology 100) that I'm in possession of a very large Invisible Knapsack of privilege. I grew up in a racially diverse city just outside NYC, but it was not particularly well-integrated. Because we lived in the south end (mostly black and hispanic, with pockets of affluence right on the waterfront), my elementary school class was really diverse and we all just played with each other. My two best friends lived in the "projects" and we'd play in their playground after school. I didn't think much of it until we moved to England when I was 8 - suddenly there were just white people everywhere. By the time we moved back to New Ro at the end of middle school, all the kids had self-segregated in the lunchroom (and for the most part, had been segregated in classes as well). High school was even more pronounced. And then I went off to college in rural Maine, where the vast majority of the school looked just like me.


There were racist incidents in high school, and in college, all of which were very earnestly discussed and then smoothed over.

I've only had the tiniest glimpse of what it's like to be on the "wrong" side of racist sentiment, when people here have made comments about immigrants taking our jobs and foreigners taking over the country, quickly followed by oh, but I don't mean you! But you DID mean me; I'm an immigrant and a foreigner but I've been given a magical free pass because I look like you and speak English and am lucky enough to be able to support myself financially.

Anyway, this is not an essay on racism in England. I'm aware that I have it VERY easy.

I've been reading Karen Walrond's blog for several years - she's an excellent writer and photographer. When she exhorted us to speak up, I tried to ignore it and couldn't.

America is broken - there is too much racism that's deeply institutionalised and ingrained. We need to start really early, with universal free preschool, preparing all the kids for a rigorous education and not just those whose parents can afford it. There needs to be a major overhaul of the healthcare system, so that young mothers make the best choices for themselves and their children, and that the cycle of poverty isn't perpetuated.

And we really need to do something about the guns. All of the guns. President Obama's speech after the Charleston massacre included the statement that “at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Gun owners defend their guns because they say they keep them safe. Safe from what? From other people with guns. Yes, some guns will always be in the hands of criminals. But if the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and their teachers didn't change anything, I'm not entirely sure what it will take to change.

So I can vote. And I can add my small voice to the chorus calling for change. An I'm not going to give up on America just yet (although it has crossed my mind).