By Giovanteey Bishop, In Our Own Voice Program Manager
Generation Progress hosted the sixth annual #Fight4AFuture summit that is centered on eliminating mass incarceration and illuminating viable solutions to ending the gun violence epidemic. Generation Progress functions as an arm of The Center for American Progress and serves explicitly to uplift, empower, and engage young people. The #Fight4AFuture Summit provided space for bright young activists from around the nation to connect and exchange revolutionary ideas. I had the pleasure of being able to attend the Generation Progress convening last week. My perspective on many of the issues was broadened, spanning from justice reform, ending gun violence, and eradicating mass incarceration.
Gun violence and mass incarceration are Reproductive Justice issues. At the core of Reproductive Justice is having the ability to have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. Gun violence inhibits our ability to parent in a safe environment. Mass incarceration threatens Reproductive Justice by restricting an entire community’s ability to have bodily autonomy.
The #Fight4AFuture Summit was a fantastic opportunity to engage with young leaders and learn more about how they are answering the call to action within their communities. I was excited to be able to share space with passionate young people who are shifting the paradigm on gun violence. Gun violence disproportionately impacts young people at an alarming rate, so we must uplift the voices of young advocates around the issue and bring them to the decision-making table. #Fight4AFuture Summit did precisely that!
#Fight4AFuture Summit unveiled how racial bias plays a vital role in excessive sentencing laws, and socioeconomic inequalities factor into mass incarceration rates. The cash bail system penalizes those without wealth, and crowded jails dehumanize people who exist on the margins of the economy. The system incarcerates people for merely being poor. Even after the trauma and stigmatization of incarceration, those who have been released face penalties, including discrimination in housing and employment, inability to vote, and exclusion from public benefits, student loans, and some professional licenses.
I was startled to find out that the United States has the highest gun violence rates of any other developed nation. Gun violence is a growing epidemic within our nation, and those most impacted are our youth. Gun violence disproportionately affects people between the ages of 15-30.
The #Fight4AFuture Summit was an eye-opening experience that awakened me to the devastating impact of mass incarceration and gun violence. Despite the overwhelming facts on gun violence disparities, I am hopeful for our future due to the immense dedication of the young activists that attended the #Fight4AFuture Summit. Together we worked through finding solutions for issues plaguing our communities, and together we strengthened our leadership skills to go back into those same communities better equipped and ready to answer the call to aaction!