Monday Reading List: Students Lead the Charge Against Gun Violence

Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate wrote about the #PoliticizeMyDeath pledge:

The ... site—launched just before the Las Vegas massacre, Cohen notes—seeks to channel the visceral anger that many people feel about gun deaths in the way more established activist groups can’t. “We love Everytown, the Brady Campaign, we love what the different organizations are doing,” Cohen says. “[But] because they all have institutional prerogatives, they have to be careful about their rhetoric. We said, ‘What if there were a somewhat more radical component to this, and it didn’t have to be beholden to donors or the niceties of political conversation?’” While some (but not all) of the individuals who created the site work professionally in the activism/nonprofit sector, he says, Politicize My Death is being operated on a solely volunteer basis and is not funded by or affiliated with any other group.

Yes, the "Cohen" he quoted is me. If you haven't already signed the pledge, please do, as we are in the process of building a very different kind of response to gun violence.

giphy (90).gif
giphy (91).gif

The #PoliticizeMyDeath effort, which is purposefully radical, has a lot in common with how the young people in Parkland have responded to the murders in their midst. Angela Helm of The Root has more:

Since the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Tuesday, many survivors from that day have used social and traditional media to renounce the typical Republican response. You know, “more mental health regulations,” “Guns don’t kill people ...” “Maybe if the school personnel were armed ...” “Stop making it political ...” “It’s the FBI’s fault ...” and perhaps the most offensive, “Sending thoughts and prayers.” Yeah. These kids were having none of it ... These children have been traumatized, yes, but also politicized, and say they will be out in these streets.

Various news sources are reporting that a national student walkout is imminent. Whatever happens, we need a sustained, national effort to fight gun violence. That effort requires a committed, unshakeable constituency that will be unabashed in its demands, and unintimidated by the forces who control the status quo.

Finally today, on a somewhat more positive note, there are roughly a billion articles about the opening weekend of Black Panther, which appears to be breaking all kinds of box office records. I'll be tweeting out the best articles I read, but here's a mostly-spoiler-free one from Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker, which captures the thematic depth of what is ostensibly a superhero film:

“Black Panther,” however, exists in an invented nation in Africa, a continent that has been grappling with invented versions of itself ever since white men first declared it the “dark continent” and set about plundering its people and its resources. This fantasy of Africa as a place bereft of history was politically useful, justifying imperialism ... Africa—or, rather, “Africa”—is a creation of a white world and the literary, academic, cinematic, and political mechanisms that it used to give mythology the credibility of truth. No such nation as Wakanda exists on the map of the continent, but that is entirely beside the point. Wakanda is no more or less imaginary than the Africa conjured by Hume or Trevor-Roper, or the one canonized in such Hollywood offerings as “Tarzan.” It is a redemptive counter-mythology.

Have a great week!