By Angela Waters Bamford, M.Div., M.A.C.E
Bullets don’t have eyes and there are no civilians in war are true statements and should not be used to help describe the distorted realities of living in America. In response to a call for content by Tocsin Magazine, I would like to offer this contribution. It is based on my views from my community and my experiences of living with guns and the fallout of guns in the hands of people who were not responsible to make cognitive, intelligent decisions where weapons are concerned. Sadly, I have had far too many experiences. I was shot in my head by gang members, who were shooting at my father while I was pregnant, to more recently having my vehicle shot while parked in front of my home.
I am a poet and want to share this experience from my book, My Inner City Blues; Views from My Reality. As a coping mechanism, I felt that I had to write it out. Unfortunately, many people in my community have not tapped into positive, constructive ways to release trauma that attacks us daily.
Recently, I was at the laundry and this little boy around four or five years old started talking to me. An older person who may have been watching him was close by. After talking to the child for a few minutes, he pulled a toy gun out and pointed it at me. He pulled the trigger and repeated his actions. I was horrified because it was so real, a young child; with a gun, and the community is telling him it is okay to play with guns by their silence. Guns are never toys. Guns are lethal weapons that need to be operated by responsible people who can make coherent, logical decisions.
I told the little boy that I wasn’t going to play with him because he had a gun and pulled it on me and that that action was not nice. The little boy looked confused. He came back and tried to talk with his gun put away. I gave the little boy another chance, but within minutes he pulled his gun out again. The ramifications of what was going on were boggling my brain. Here is the poem that came out of that experience;
"The Little Boy At The Laundromat"
Why do people encourage children?
To play with guns?
Why do people tolerate children playing with gun?
Why are we shocked when they hurt
Other people using guns?
I don’t understand it!!!!
It just sounds insane
And then we call on God
Or better yet—
Say he’s the blame
Is it just me?
Or do others see the same thing
To quietly remain.
I know we have buried too many
Beautiful, innocent children.
We have closed the casket on too
Many love ones
Who was taken too soon.
We have closed our eyes
tried to hide
and made God cry.
Have we disregarded
To justify killing Blacks
As a legal defense?
Have we prepared these children
For the day of “at one ment”
Or been too busy trying to pay rent
To care about where our eternity is spent.
You heard about the Rapture,
And how it will be as a thief in the night;
We shall all be caught up
When Christ cracks the sky.
Will you make it to our heavenly home on high?
If we keep letting children die
From guns and violence
Where do you think this all will end?
What will it take to embrace
each other with love and
as equal, human-kin
The faces of our children
Gone to soon
The empty place
The pain of loss
The shame should compel us
To find a solution
At all cost.