In the midst of my most somber moments, I often turn to poetry to help heal my wounds, to find solace, and to bring about a semblance of understanding.
Above, I’ve shared two poems I’ve written that I hope will be a balm as the unwelcome news of another school shooting greets us with sorrow.
But the truth is, there is nothing left to say that hasn’t been said in some capacity about the plague of gun violence that ravages the United States. We witness the lives of children snuffed out in schools, joy buried by bullets in night clubs, innocent shoppers laid low in grocery stores, and countless other heinous acts. All of these instances are not mere accidents or random occurrences, but rather the result of a decision – a collective choice made by this nation to prioritize a perverse devotion to weapons, violence, capitalism, and power over the sanctity of human life.
Thoughts and prayers are rendered meaningless when they echo through a nation filled with millions who think only of themselves and offer bow at nothing but the altar of profit. This is a problem that largely does not exist in many other countries, and yet it festers and thrives here in America.
Today’s news of the mass shooting in a Nashville private school bore witness to yet another devastating moment, but for entities such as the NRA and GOP, it seems as if the murder of children and others are simply notches on their belt.
The U.S. persists in setting itself apart from its international peers in terms of gun ownership and firearm deaths. In 2017, American civilians held an average of 120.5 firearms per 100 people – the highest rate in the world by a factor of more than two, according to data from the Small Arms Survey. This places the United States in a league of its own, the only country with more civilian-held guns than citizens.
Among the 40 largest countries in the world in 2019, the United States trailed only Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico in terms of having the highest rate of deaths due to firearms. From 2014 to 2020, gun-related deaths in the U.S. rose 35%, according to nonpartisan data center USAFacts.
In the face of these harrowing statistics, it becomes clear that the answer is not merely reform. The answer lies in the dismantling of the very institution of gun ownership and manufacturing in the United States. We must make the conscious decision to reverse the tides of violence that have left so many lives in ruin.
To continue down this path is to affirm our allegiance to a system that perpetuates death and destruction. We must choose, as a nation, to break free from the shackles of this self-destructive cycle and boldly walk towards a future where the blood of innocent people no longer stains our collective conscience. It is time for America to make the decision – the decision to end gun violence once and for all.
Below you fill find a link that will give you contact information for your congressional representative. Let them know where you stand on this issue: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
~ Frederick is a two-time New York Times bestselling author of The Black Friend (2020) and Patriarchy Blues (2022), Better Than We Found It (2022) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Courage to Dream (2022). He was recognized for the International Literacy Association’s 2021 Children’s & Young Adults’ Book Award, is a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list-maker for marketing and advertising, an activist, philanthropist, and poet. He was also honored with the 2018 Comic-Con Humanitarian of the Year award and is a member of the 2018 “The Root 100" list of Most Influential African Americans. His forthcoming works are the novel, This Thing of Ours, children’s book, Planting Hope, and the non-fiction essay collection, Color Me Grateful.