“Dear mom and dad,” starts Sam Getachew, a 17-year-old spoken-word poet and writer from Oakland, CA. “Twenty or so years ago when you came here, you couldn’t have known that you followed a trail of promises made by a country that breaks them with no remorse.”
In a video poetry performance provided exclusively to Refinery29, three young artists — Getachew, Malavika Kannan, and Saida Dahir — describe what it’s like to experience the threat of gun violence as members of marginalized communities.
“I think that gun violence is truly an intersectional issue,” Kannan, 18, who is currently a National Youth Fellow with Giffords, the national gun-safety group founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, tells Refinery29. “We wanted to highlight how it ties into other issues and affects marginalized identities. We wanted to remind people that gun violence is an issue of domestic violence, of race and police brutality, and more. It has so many more manifestations than how it’s portrayed in the media.”
The video is a preview of an event the poets are holding this Sunday in the Bay Area, called Slam Gun Violence!
ANNOUNCEMENT: @HomegirlP and @GiffordsCourage are hosting Slam Gun Violence, a revolutionary youth poetry slam against gun violence in the Bay Area!— malavika kannan (@malavikawrites) September 26, 2019
Please encourage young poets — particularly POC — to apply to perform at our event! Our voices matter! https://t.co/Ppw7hPHqdU pic.twitter.com/yqKVPvSGPF
Kannan, who is also the founder of the Homegirl Project, an organization that provides mentorship and political-advocacy training to young women of color, gets brutally honest in the video performance:
“I was 14 years old when men started calling me pretty and I smiled, because I knew how to play my audience, I knew how to survive. I’d rather let men enter me than leave an exit wound. Because a woman with a gun is asking for it, but a man with a gun is taking what he loves, and I’d rather be a girl than a bullet hole.”
“We wanted something that is for us, by us,” she explained to Refinery29. “We wanted to remind people that this issue is as much our issue as anyone else’s.”
Watch the powerful video, below.
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