On an episode of Facebook’s Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and Willow Smith bring to the table four women with different experiences of gun violence: actress Lauren London, activist Erica Ford, professional dancer Rain Stippec, and entrepreneur Dani Robinson. They come together to share their personal, deeply traumatic experiences with gun violence, how they were able to cope and survive, and how we need to change this harmful culture together by changing the way that we relate with one another.
Read this if...
- You want to change the culture of gun violence
- You are a trauma survivor of gun violence
- You are a Black woman who has experienced gun violence
Lauren London is an actress and model whose partner, rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle was gunned down outside his clothing store. They have one son together.
Activist Erica Ford has been working to help victims of gun violence for many years now as the founder of Life Camp Inc.
Professional dancer Rain Stippec survived a suspected gang initiation where she was shot eight times in her car.
Beauty entrepreneur Dani Robinson also survived an incident of gun violence at the hands of her abusive ex-boyfriend after she left him and took their two daughters with her.
the distilld Lessons (extended)
Gun violence is a complex issue that affects nearly all facets of American life in the United States. Gun laws are still not strict enough for most states. Children have to experience active shooter drills in schools. We often hear discussion about gun violence and how it affects communities and neighborhoods, but it’s rare for us to hear about the effects of gun violence on women.
Jada Pinkett Smith discusses gun violence with her panel of fellow Black women on Red Table Talks. They talk about how this particular violent act is a shared experience for many Black women. They note that being a victim of gun violence comes in many shapes and forms, some of which are not as obvious as others.
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the “How Gun Violence Affects Women” of the Red Table Talk podcast:
1. The trauma of gun violence affects the victim’s loved ones, too.
A partner’s death is devastating both emotionally and financially. Aside from the actual loss, the victim’s partner has to figure out how to raise the family by themselves. It can be difficult for women, especially those who were widowed young or left without other support systems. As much as they may need to grieve, providing for the family will become their priority—and one they will need to bear on their own.
Witnessing gun violence in person can leave life-long trauma, especially for very young children. Loss of a family member, neighbor, or friend to gun violence also makes its mark.
To cope, women can find comfort through their support systems. We might think people can’t understand how we feel, and we may be right, but trauma doesn’t disappear on its own. We must work through it by talking about it to people we love and trust. In order to heal, we need to reach out or allow others to help.
2. Gun violence can come at a completely unexpected time.
Tragedy can strike at any moment. Many people who become victims of shootings aren’t the actual targets. They were merely at the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s no predicting when and where gun violence can occur. One random act of gun violence can permanently change a person’s life forever.
Recovering from the effects of gun violence can be slow and difficult. One way to cope is to hope that this will also pass. We can learn to take things one day at a time. We can rely on our support systems. While our lives will be forever changed by something like this, we can work through the worst of it and come out the other side stronger.
3. Gun violence can happen within close quarters.
Domestic violence accounts for a lot of the gun violence experienced by women. Abuse by a partner often escalates. It starts with a slap on the cheek, that escalates into battery, that might even escalate to shooting.
For women, we must always listen to our gut. Women’s intuition is often right, and we have to trust it. When you feel like you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help from friends or family members. Don’t ignore the warning signs, especially if you also have children to consider.
4. There are people fighting to end gun violence.
There are organizations that are coming together to address the impacts of gun violence to women and other communities. Life Camp Inc, in particular, helps everyone who has been affected by gun violence in one way or another. Other organizations also focus on helping victims and their families. There are also interest groups that are currently lobbying for better gun policies.
So, how do we end gun violence? There’s no clear-cut answer to that. What we can do is to stop glorifying gun violence. We should also call for systemic changes that reduce easy access to guns.
We should change how we relate to each other, respect each other’s opinion, and be willing to see where others are coming from. This will build open communication within our communities. When there is open communication, we can sort out differences in less violent ways.
We should also be aware of the unique impact gun violence has on women, and set up systems and organizations that can support them as they deal with this traumatic event in their life. Supporting organizations like Life Camp Inc. is also a step in the right direction.
Cases of gun violence against women can diminish. Jada shares that she sees it by how she doesn’t have to fear for her children’s safety against gun violence the same way she had to growing up. We can do our part to change this culture of gun violence through active action and participation such as lobbying for changes in gun laws.
If we are proactive in helping end gun violence, we will help save countless women from experiencing the hardship of falling victim to this tragic crime.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.