Gary Younge Speaks on Gun Crime & Race Relations in the USA

Author Gary Younge says he feels “a big responsibility” to the families of children whose deaths he has recorded in a book on gun fatalities in the United States.  “I feel a kind of a big responsibility to the families,” he told a sell-out event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. “When the book comes out and they see their kid’s name mentioned in the New York Times Review, or see it talked about at these kinds of events, then [their names] are still out there, people have not forgotten…there is comfort in that I think, [but] it wasn’t my intention, I didn’t anticipate that.”

Another Day in the Death of America charts the deaths of ten children and teens killed by gunfire on a single day, Saturday, 23 November 2013, after journalist and writer Younge tracked down their families. Asked about their response to the book, he replied: “Quite often what happened is that they could not read their own chapter, they read the other chapters, and sometimes they’d come back to their own chapter. Most of these people don’t expect themselves to be in a book.

“The whole process of getting to know them and introducing myself took time. This guy shows up, English guy, black guy, I want to know everything that you will tell me about your child. The child’s been dead sometimes for three months, four months, the local newspaper hasn’t even called, they’re like ‘where’s the catch?’ I would talk to them for 40 minutes and say ‘then I’ll come back if you want to do this’. Sometimes that was the only interview I had and they didn’t want to do it, but they didn’t say no. Two people I didn’t get, but most of them would say, ‘yeah, come back’, and they’d introduce me to friends and family and so on – it was a slow process.”

Commenting on race relations in the US more generally, Younge said: “One way to understand America is that it was a slave state for 200 years, an apartheid state for a hundred years, and it’s been a non-racial democracy for just over 50 years – it’s quite new.” And asked if he believed there was a solution to gun crime, he replied: “If they can elect Barack Obama, and then elect Donald Trump, they can do anything, they can do anything they want.”

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