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“It feels like torture every single day. Every day. You just wake up and it’s like, ‘Well, let me see what violence happened last night when I was asleep.’”
The priorities of some people concerned about racist violence at the hands of the police — those who want to reduce the presence of officers — are often framed as being in tension with those of Black people who want their communities to be safer. That’s simply not true. It’s a misconception that exists in part because we don’t hear enough from those who are touched by both components of the crisis and lead the fight against it. So over the past eight months, I asked Black mothers across the country — who are the true experts on the issue — to tell me about the gun violence that has shaped their lives. As killings by the police and mass shootings continue to make headlines, it’s time we listen to them.
The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Ledelle Mitchell, Memphis
Mitchell has three daughters who are 33, 38 and 39. She is a partner at Mitchell Technology Group.
I grew up in one of the most historic communities in the nation, not only in Memphis. Orange Mound is considered one of the largest Black home-owning communities … in the country. It was a very beloved community.
Gun violence in our community has been detrimental. At our church, the Saturday program — it’s a youth mentoring program — started out being just young people in high school, but it really turned into young men all the way up to ages 25, 26, 27. And we have lost from that group at least four or five young men to gun violence.