“I’ve had guns pulled on me by four people under Central Mississippi skies . . .”


” . . . Once by a white undercover cop, once by a young brother trying to rob me for the leftovers of a weak work-study check, once by my mother and twice by myself.”

All across the country, people are having conversations about the insanity of gun violence here in America. Kiese Laymon, a writer and professor of English and Africana studies at Vassar College, details his experiences encountering guns in his stirring essay How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance. The essay interweaves personal narratives of growing up black in Mississippi with references to gun murders that occurred earlier this year – including the fatal shootings of Rekia Boyd, Edward Evans, and Trayvon Martin, all of whom died before reaching the age of twenty-five. It’s a beautifully written, heartbreaking piece about what is at stake and what is already lost.

Hannah Kingsley-Ma is a recent graduate of Kenyon College currently working and writing in San Francisco. More from this author →