orlandojones
Orlando Jones

Twiitter screenshot

Over the last couple of weeks the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge,” to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease, has raised more than $15 million in donations. Everyone from celebrities to random grandmothers has taken part in the challenge by drenching themselves with buckets of ice water, all in the name of awareness about the degenerative disease also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But one actor tends to think there’s one “disease” that needs more awareness. It’s one “disease” that happens to disproportionately affect black people. Orlando Jones, star of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and formerly of MadTV, launched his own initiative this week. Jones calls it the “Bullet Bucket Challenge.”

The Bullet Bucket Challenge was sparked by the recent killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The disease of violence, particularly when a black person is killed by a police officer, seems to be all too common in recent months: From Eric Garner to Mike Brown. From Ezell Ford to Kajieme Powell. Those men have died at the hands of those who were meant to protect and serve.

Jones’ mission with his Bullet Bucket Challenge is to bring attention to the violence that exists in the world. In Jones’ video, he pours a bucket of shell casings, instead of ice water, over his head to represent the lives that were cut short because of violence.

In an interview with Fusion, Jones, a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association, explained why there should be no confusion about his decision to start the challenge and the NRA’s mission. Jones said that when he was a child, a cross was burned on his front lawn, and his father carried a gun to protect his family. 

“For me, I became a member [of the NRA] because I wanted to effect change in the organization. Do I share all of their ideals? No. I’m not a monolith in culture. I don’t agree with all black people on everything, either. I’m a complex person and I wanted to make that point,” Jones stated.

Jones also spoke about celebrities standing up and completing the ice challenge but remaining quiet about what’s going on in Ferguson. “I don’t think this is the McCarthy era and we should be writing lists of who stood up and who sat down. It’s something I feel strongly about, but that doesn’t mean I’m a better person than anyone else. You’re looking into an American city and it looks like you’re looking into a war zone. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a city in the world look like a war zone, and to be fair, where was my voice then? So for me, it was like, I can no longer be silent,” Jones explained.

Although Jones’ challenge is more of a statement than a call-and-response, he does want people to hold themselves responsible for speaking out against atrocities and bringing about change. 

For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root.

Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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