In light of all-too-frequent mass shootings across the country, another political gun control debate, and the broad swath of youth activism surrounding these issues, BrownTown turns a previous organic conversation into an episode. As gun violence in America is sadly nothing new, the youth mobilization after the Parkland, Florida school shooting sparked a lasting conversation around gun violence, the NRA, and public policy. However, as the March For Our Lives movement picks up steam and funding, the mainstream narrative often forgets or obscures the work of primarily Black and Brown individuals and organizations (insert: Good Kids Mad City; the 4 Front Project, Tiffany Loftin of NAACP) who have been working against the intersections of violence in and outside of their communities through nuanced, complex analyses that connect the “gun problem” to larger systems of oppression that sustain inequality and death in less salient ways.
BrownTown takes this approach to examine the culture of violence as a uniquely American phenomenon, which finds itself at the intersection of capitalism, militarism, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. With SoapBox’s Chicago Drill and Activism project as a site of investigation, we explore drill rap from the UK and Chicago—two places with starkly different gun policy, yet similar problems for some of its most marginalized population. This leads them to compare and contrast gun policy on a global scale in an attempt to understand the story behind stats. How has America reconciled with its violent past? Why do some places with looser gun laws or violent histories have far less homicides and suicides? The second amendment is often propped up as a unquestionable staple in these conversations while obscuring the contextual milieu in which it was created as well as the reasoning behind some state’s stricter gun legislation (insert: Reagan and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s).
Lastly, BrownTown takes a reflexive look at even how our everyday language promotes a standard of domination and violence in seemingly “apolitical” ways. Through the examples, historical and contemporary, personal and hypothetical, BrownTown walks away from the conversation noting that our efforts to curve violence in America must be holistic, incremental, and radical in its approach if we are to truly get free. Originally recorded May 8, 2018.
CREDITS: Intro song This is America by Childish Gambino. Outro song PROM / KING by Saba. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro.