5. Commit to spending time mentoring youths in your area.
Lee said she believes that mainstream media do not cover urban gun violence with the same intensity given to nonurban violence, like the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. “That’s one thing we hope we can resolve at BET. We’ve been trying to shine a light on this for a long time, about what’s going on Chicago every weekend, what’s going in in other major cities, how it’s affecting the black community. We need to be the bullhorn for that because it is being ignored and minimized by the mainstream press.”
Lee would say later, in her remarks at the podium, “We don’t need what they call the mainstream press to tell us this is an issue. We don’t need to criticize [the] New York Times or whoever else for not covering our violence. We know it. We live it every day.” (Her remarks are noteworthy because they come two days after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the New York Times for inadequate coverage of minority gun deaths.)
The guest of honor at the event was Cleopatra Pendleton, who lost her teenage daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, to gun violence shortly after Hadiya performed in the presidential inaugural parade. Many have been in awe of the strength Pendleton has shown in the wake of such a devastating loss, but she has worked to ensure that her daughter’s death is not in vain.
When asked what she would say to other parents grieving a similar loss who are not involved in anti-gun activism, she told The Root that she would tell them, “Do what you have to do to cope.” She added, “This is my way of coping.”
Pendleton then explained that she understands not every parent will cope in the same way, but it is important that the voices of those who have experienced the pain of gun violence firsthand are heard in the debate. “It’s important,” she said, “so that there’s an awareness of what happens after a child dies.”
Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.