This article was written by Sreyansh Biswal , a 16-year-old Gun Violence Prevention Activist from East Brunswick, New Jersey. He is a first generation Indian-American and enjoys learning about his culture. He serves as the Membership Leader of Students Demand Action East Brunswick, a youth-led gun safety advocacy group.
During my daily Instagram scroll, I stumbled across a post of Karan Brar, an Indian-American actor. I first thought it was another one of Brar’s typical posts, but then I noticed something different. His pose entailed one similar to that of a shooter, but instead of a gun in hand, he held a book. After reading the caption, I realized that he wields peace, not hate. Brar was shedding light on the sensitive topic of gun violence in America in a very unique way. Instead of emphasizing the negative effects of shootings, he calls upon action to “[wield] peace, love and compassion.”
Wielding Peace, a campaign of the Cameron Boyce Foundation, focuses on spreading awareness on social media about the fight to end gun violence. In an interview with Refinery29, Cameron Boyce had referenced the props being wielded as “items that signify unity and peace.” Instead of guns, these props symbolize “anything that might inspire someone creatively as well as make a strong statement with the sentiment that we need to choose a different weapon.”
Karan Brar is one amongst many who participated in this campaign. As an actor, he utilized his platform and voice to call attention to the issue of gun violence. His choice of prop was a book – a symbol of education and future prosperity. As an Indian-American gun violence prevention activist myself, it was very empowering to see someone who looks like me amplify his voice to create change.
Brar’s public stance on this issue of gun violence is sparking conversation among South Asian communities in America. For example, many young Indian-Americans like me are finding their voices as the visibility of South Asian-Americans in mainstream media increases. Personally, I serve on the leadership team of my local Students Demand Action chapter in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Through my role, I strive to introduce students of all walks of life to various components of gun safety. Due to the prominence of a large Indian-American population in the state of New Jersey, there is more representation of people like me in local politics and media. With more representation and younger Indian-Americans talking about this, joining activist groups, and helping pass legislation, change is foreseeable.
Jai Patel, a 19-year-old gun violence prevention activist is also an advocate in his community. He works in Jersey City and is a part of the National Student Advisory Board of Students Demand Action. You can read his essay below:
Gun violence, particularly mass shootings, affects Americans of all backgrounds. To prevent these atrocities, several different organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and March for Our Lives have establish to act as a driving force towards change. With the expansion of these groups to more diverse audiences, including Indian-Americans, the voices of minorities are being heard. Together, people from all walks of life are working together to make their communities safer.
Overall, Brar’s message of wielding peace helps people understand that whether it be big or small, their action to prevent gun violence can make a difference.
Together, we can all wield peace for generations to come.