Triggered: The Untold Stories of Gen Z Black Girls and Gun Violence
We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world, but maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence. ~Barack Obama
The characters and story below are fictional but represent the reality of so many young black girls.
Terri had just turned 16 when she witnessed the impact of gun violence firsthand. She was walking home from school with her best friend Mya when they heard gunshots from a nearby alleyway. Mya was lying on the ground in a split second, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Terri watched in horror as her friend struggled to breathe, pleading with her to stay awake.
Mya was among many young black girls impacted by gun violence in their communities. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were over 6,000 incidents of gun violence in the United States in 2022 against children ages 0–17 alone.
For Terri and her peers in Generation Z, gun violence has become a pervasive part of their reality. Many have grown up in neighborhoods where gunshots are common, school lockdown drills are necessary, and where attending a funeral for a friend or family member killed by gun violence is all too familiar.
As a black girl in America, Terri knows she is at a higher risk of experiencing gun violence than many of her peers. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, black Americans are more than twice as likely to be killed by gun violence than white Americans. And for black girls like Terri, the impacts of gun violence go beyond the immediate physical harm caused by a bullet.
In the aftermath of Mya’s shooting, Terri struggled to cope with the trauma and grief she experienced. She felt scared and helpless, unsure of how to move forward. Her grades suffered, and she found it hard to concentrate in school. Her parents noticed the changes in her behavior and tried their best to support her, but they, too, were grappling with the trauma of losing a young friend to gun violence.
Terri’s story is not unique. For many black girls in America, gun violence is a constant threat that affects every aspect of their lives. It impacts their mental and emotional well-being, sense of safety and security, and ability to succeed academically and professionally.
Despite their challenges, Terri and her peers in Generation Z are resilient. They are organizing, speaking out, and demanding change. They are using their voices to call attention to the impact of gun violence on their communities, and they are pushing for solutions that will help keep them safe.
As Terri looks to the future, she knows there is still a long way to go in the fight against gun violence. But she is hopeful that change is possible. She knows she and her peers can create a safer, more just future for all black girls by standing together and refusing to accept a world where gun violence is okay. She encourages leaders and other Generation Zers to “Slay What Ya Hear!” Gun violence is not normal!