A B O U T
The intention of this project, Dear America, is to document the photos and writings of people whose lives have been impacted by gun violence. This encompasses police brutality, mass shootings, homicide, suicide, unintentional shootings, and any harm—emotional or physical—inflicted with a gun. In these pages, you'll find individuals from all corners of the United States. And this will continue to grow as more people add their stories and share memories of their loved ones. On each page you will find photographs and letters addressed to you, America. I implore you to respond to the vulnerability on these pages with love, with grace, and with compassion.
Gun violence is a public health crisis in America. There are on average over 100,120 gun-related injuries and over 36,383 gun deaths every year. Countless others are left physically unharmed, but emotionally wounded in the aftermath. As a survivor of a mass shooting, I know too well the struggle that accompanies the trauma caused by gun violence.
In the years since surviving a mass shooting, it has become clear to me that establishing personal connections with others is the key to inspiring change. My hope for this project is to create a platform for survivors to address their neighbors, to share with them—and with you—pieces of who they are and who they love, and to establish personal connections that transcend the politics surrounding guns in America. I believe that these connections, forged by honesty and determination are the first step towards a future where we find common ground on these divisive issues.
I want to live in a world where my younger siblings are not afraid to go to school; where black mothers do not have to wake up each day wondering if their sons will come home from the grocery store; where everyone is able to worship in whatever way they choose without the fear of violence. Stories are what connect us and drive us as human beings. As Americans, we are all affected by this issue and it is something that, together, we can remedy.
In many of the letters presented here, you'll find themes of suicide, loss, violent trauma, and struggles with mental health. As you spend time with this project, please take care of yourself and engage with it in whatever way that is healthy and safe for you.
This project was funded by the Andries Deinum Prize for Visionaries and Provocateurs at Portland State University. You can read more about the prize and Andries Deinum here. You can read more about me and my story here.
*The views expressed by the people participating in the project do not necessarily reflect the ideas and beliefs of the Dear America Project or Portland State University.