MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The community is hurting as we keep losing innocent children to gun violence, but a group of children from Westhaven has come together to try to make a change.
Ages five through 12, the siblings and cousins want to spread a message about what’s become regular gun violence in our city.
“Please stop the shooting, I know I’m just a kid, but I heard on the news what they did,” they rapped.
The idea came to them after 2-year-old Laylah Washington was shot and killed earlier this year. Their uncle encouraged them to use their voices.
“I said if y’all write this song about violence being committed against kids then I’ll put you in the studio," their uncle Ravelle Bates said.
So they did just that.
“It’s every day, not once in awhile. It’s every day someone’s getting shot or robbery or et cetera,” 12-year-old Nya Bates said.
Their uncle helped them record the rap and make t-shirts representing their message: Stop It Now.
“I listened to it and I was literally in tears because these children are facing what they shouldn’t be facing, said Bridget Bradley, PTO president for Westhaven Elementary. "It shouldn’t be a norm for kids to know that other children are being killed like this.”
The kids’ family members want the children in our community to feel safe and be able to play like they did when they were their age.
“It has to start with us, we have to take our streets back,” Tarsha Bates said.
Bates is one of the moms in the group and has had her own experiences with gun violence against her son.
“In 2009, he was shot in the back of the head," she said.
He was alright, but they’re also friends with the family of a 1-year-old recently shot and killed.
With technology and media the way it is today, the family says there’s no keeping this news from their children, so they might as well encourage them to be the change in our community.
“I just hope it changes the world and inspires people to do better in life," 10-year-old Jamaya Bates said.
They're selling the 'Stop It Now' t-shirts in the hopes people will wear them throughout the community and spread the message of peace and love.
You can order a shirt by calling Ravelle at (901) 212-1538.