Photo courtesy of Carlos Javier Ortiz

Middle school student Mercedes Austin recently penned a passionate editorial for Essence Magazine, sharing her thoughts on the gun violence crisis in her hometown of Chicago.

According to Mercedes, violence is like a disease, perpetuated and passed on from person to person through feelings of fear, anger, and vengeance.

As this crisis continues, Mercedes finds it hard to believe that anything will ever change.

From Essence:

 This year in March, like a week or two ago, a little girl name Jonyla Watkins was shot when she was only 6 months old.  Whoever shot that baby has no heart. How could you sleep knowing you did that to a child who hasn’t got to even see the world or say her first words?  When she was shot, I was hoping it would open people’s eyes to realize that it is not good to kill or have a gun.  There have been so many innocent bystanders that died for NO REASON.  What did Jonyla do?  What did Hadiya [Pendleton] do?  Nothing.  That’s why people need to put the guns down and think.  That could’ve been your mom, sister, cousin, uncle—anybody!

Check out the rest of her powerful testimony at

It is so important that we do everything that we can to instill a sense of hope and empowerment in young people like Mercedes.

And it is also imperative that the voices and perspectives of our youth are heard as we continue to combat this crisis.

Kudos to Essence Magazine for providing this young lady with a platform to share her thoughts.


Thoughts on Mercedes’ sentiments?

How do we stem the tide of violence in Chicago and cities across the country?

Sound off below!