On June 2, the nation, or a good part of it anyway, will be #WearingOrange for a cause. The cause is a national day for gun violence awareness followed by the month of June with more awareness events and actions. The reason? The parents of one young girl are asking us to do this in her memory. For on June 2, tomorrow, she would be 18 years old. The reason they will not be celebrating her birthday is because she was shot and killed in January of 2013 just days after playing with her Chicago school band at President Obama’s inauguration. Her name was Hadiya Pendleton.
Here’s more about the day of gun violence awareness. Some New York lawmakers declared June to be gun violence awareness month in 2011. The idea has since spread and now has the endorsement of gun violence prevention groups and other groups from all over the country representing tens of thousands of Americans, if not more. In 2013 a group of Hadiya’s friends promoted the wearing of the color orange in memory of Hadiya and other gun violence victims:
The color orange is a “hunter’s orange,” said Victor Taylor, a co-organizer of the project and a King senior.
“You know, when people are in the wilderness, and they don’t want to be shot by other hunters,” Taylor said. “You don’t want to be invisible.”
Hunters want to be safe from being shot while hunting. So do Americans want to be safe from the gun violence that takes far too many lives.
“You don’t want to be invisible”. Exactly. Victims sometimes become invisible. Every day in our country over 80 people die from gunshot injuries. There are many mass shootings in our country which get the attention of the public, the media and even lawmakers for a while. And then, the corporate gun lobby steps in and does their job of making themselves the victims of proposed changes to laws that would actually prevent senseless shootings. It’s totally backwards and insane, in fact, but it happens. It makes absolutely no common sense. But it is the America we have, not the country most people want or deserve.
And that is why we intend to make a difference. Mike the Gun Guy reflected on why this national day of awareness and the month of actions will make a difference:
I think that June 2, touted as Gun Violence Awareness Day, may mark a true turning-point in the argument about guns. The pro-gun community can lobby all it wants for laws that make it easier to own or carry guns, but fewer gun restrictions won’t really matter if the country’s dominant culture becomes anti-gun. And while the NRA has been promoting gun ownership as their response to the “culture wars,” the millennial culture that is emerging and will define the country appears to be solidly anti-gun. (…)
Gun Violence Awareness Day, as reported ruefully by Brietbart and other pro-gun blogs, garnered support from movie, song and media personalities like Russell Simmons, Aasif Mandvi, Padma Lakshmi, Amanda Peet, Tunde Adebimpe and many, many more. I’m actually a pre-boomer, and I don’t have the faintest idea who any of these people are. But I do know the celebs who show up each year at the NRA shindig; guys like Chuck Norris and Ollie North. Wow – talk about young, hip and cool.
Another master-stroke in planning this event was using orange to build identity and awareness for the folks who get involved. Orange, or blaze orange as it is known, has always been worn by hunters and many states require it for anyone goes out after game. Brady and Shannon’s Moms, among other organizations, have lately moved into the safety space which was owned lock, stock and barrel by the NRA. Guess who now shares and could soon own that space?
Until recently, the playing field where gun violence arguments played out was controlled by the NRA. But right now the field is tilting the other way. And notice how millennial culture has no problem attaching the word ‘violence’ to the word ‘guns.’ This alone should make the NRA wonder if their message can win or even compete for hearts and minds. The NRA always assumed that gun owners would defend their guns while everyone else just sat by. After June 2nd, I wouldn’t want to take that assumption to the bank.
The message is changing. That must happen before the culture and laws change. Our message is strong. We understand that gun violence has become a serious national public health and safety epidemic and we also know that we can do something about this epidemic with the right prescriptions and treatment.
From Dan Gross President of the Brady Campaign and Nathaniel Pendelton, Hadiya’s father comes this piece about June 2 and wearing orange:
Most of us have been affected by gun violence or know someone who has. This June we are honoring the victims of this epidemic by wearing orange on June 2 and by redoubling our commitment to the solutions that will result in a safer Chicago for everyone. (…)
June 2 would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday, but because of a shooting on January 29, 2013, her young life ended. She loved this city and she had dreams: dreams of going to college and of becoming a journalist–dreams of traveling the world. Her death was not just our loss–it was Chicago’s loss. It was this world’s loss. Let her legacy be one of inspiring us to make the impact on the world that she dreamed of making when she was alive.
Participate in Gun Violence Awareness Month and remember to wear your orange on June 2. Together, we can end the epidemic of gun deaths in our nation and help to fulfill Hadiya’s Promise.
We owe it to the lives lost to promise to do something to stop others from not being able to reach their human potential. Hadiya”s young life had already shown the promise of success. Her life was taken far too soon in a senseless act of violence. You can see more information on the website named Hadiya’s Promise.
If you want more information about wearing orange, please check out this site for how you can be involved. Also on this site you can see all of the organizations who have endorsed this campaign. There will be other actions coming up for the month of June as were listed in the article by Dan Gross and Nathaniel Pendelton, linked above. Please find out how you can support gun violence awareness month and help us change the message and change the conversation so we can change the gun culture and do something positive to prevent gun violence. We know we can do this. The majority of Americans support reasonable gun laws and also want to stop the violence. No one wants to lose a loved one or a friend to a gunshot injury yet far too many of us have and do.
We are better than this. Let’s get to work. Do this for Hadiya and for the 32,000 Americans who die every year from gunshot injuries. Make your voices heard above the loud and often obnoxious din of the gun lobby’s deceptions and opposition to common sense.
Wear Orange for saving lives and common sense.
Hadiya’s parents wrote this opinion piece about the wear orange day.