Placing the Focus Where It Should Be
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Across social media, there is dialogue around the Oscars and the incident involving actors Will Smith and Chris Rock. While violence is never acceptable, I hope we can focus on the broader issues impacting communities of color. The truth is that far too many Black and Brown people are living through an epidemic of violence. The people closest to the pain are rarely seen or acknowledged. The community-based organizations working hardest to address gun violence should receive greater attention and funding. In this moment, we should focus on the pain that is ripping far too many families apart. This is not a moment to be distracted by an unfortunate incident that will be addressed by the parties involved. This is an opportunity for a broader conversation, but one that involves the people suffering disproportionately from violence and the entities on the ground. For our part, LIVE FREE is promoting justice and belonging through a series of community conversations. We also continue to push local, state and federal officials urging them to make a greater investment in community-based gun violence intervention strategies. LIVE FREE is a movement of faith based and justice centered groups committed to stemming the causes of violence and criminalization in communities of color. The organization recruits faith congregations, justice centered organizations and community members to be peacemaker institutions and individuals, identifies and engages credible messengers, offers stipends to individuals seeking to leave violent networks, and organizes peace walks, re-entry programs and bedside interventions.