When the students of Parkland, Florida, first made headlines, the media was widely criticized for promoting the stories of white students affected by violence over those of students of color. Since then, young activists have made very well-meaning attempts to widen the conversation to include the way gun violence manifests in communities of color. Those efforts while noble, have unfortunately only aided in further narrowing the conversation and separating communities along party and color lines. Simply put, it lacks real intersectionality. We’re experiencing a complex conversation about violence that race alone can’t explain. There are many ''We need a closer inspection into what solutions actually make women and people of color safe''.

Intimate partner violence affects women of all races, religions, ages and abilities. That violence is five times more likely to kill us if our intimate partner has access to a gun. An astounding 4.5 million women in America reported that an intimate partner threatened them with a gun ― these are the women that lived. And yet even though this issue affects all women, the state often punishes black and brown women for being the victims of violence.

Mothers of black and brown children also have to face the very real fear that their children will not be safe from those sworn to protect and serve. The police shoot and kill almost 1,000 people a year, and the majority of those are people of color. Although white men commit most acts of mass gun violence, children of color bear the burden of those crimes with the over-policing of urban schools. The presence of police in schools has not made students safer, but it has increased arrests for students of color and video footage has also shown shocking brutality from law enforcement officers inside of schools towards students of color. One such viral video shows a teenage black girl in South Carolina being tackled and flipped upside down while sitting in her desk, simply for not putting her phone away when instructed

”Diversity within advocacy groups are a requirement for real change”

We need full transparency to prevent the co-opting of the stories of people of color. We’ve seen how organizations use the traumatic experiences of black and brown people as tools for fundraising while rarely using those funds for or in support of the minority communities that experience trauma daily. Organizations who claim to be doing the work must be held accountable, making sure that serious investments are also going into a diverse set of communities.

This is why diversity within advocacy groups is a requirement for real change. We have to create meaningful space for a wide range of stakeholders to be included in addressing and creating solutions that will help make all of our communities safer and not just a privileged few.

Funding priorities should look like effective violence intervention and prevention programs and more support for women who experience intimate partner violence. Only when the decision-making tables are truly reflective of the many communities that make up America will our policy solutions be truly reflective of the many manifestations of this terrible problem.

Carmen Perez is the executive director of The Gathering for Justice and National Co-Chair of Women’s March and Jamira Burley is a social justice advocate and community engagement consultant.

Credit: Huffintonpost

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