Lauren London joined Jada Pinkett Smith during the most recent episode of Red Table Talk to discuss their experiences with gun violence as women. Although the footage was taped prior to the pandemic and, thus, the most recent, publicized police killings of Black individuals in America, Jada recorded an updated introduction in light of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. “As we are witnessing our black men being murdered in the streets, very rarely do we talk about the women who are left behind grief-stricken and shattered,” Jada says. “George Floyd has a six-year-old daughter, a sister, a girlfriend. Ahmaud Arbery [has] a mother, a sister. Both men have countless heartbroken women—aunts, cousins, friends—in their lives who love them. We are dedicating this Red Table Talk to how gun violence affects women.” She also acknowledges the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was “struck by eight bullets while sleeping in her own home” on March 13th.
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During their conversation, Lauren speaks to Jada about what it was like losing her life partner and father of her child, Nipsey Hussle, to gun violence last year, and how she’s been handling raising two black sons in a world where they will often be perceived as a threat for no reason. “So you’re raising two black boys. As a mother, what are some of your precautions or some of your messaging?” Jada asks her. “What I instill in them is more about the police,” Lauren responds. “How to handle yourself when you get pulled over. That’s more of my education, protecting them being Black men in America.” She also talks about her experiences with gun violence growing up.
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“Just growing up in LA, in the area that I was around. In high school, a lot of the boys were in gangs, and I remember that a lot of our friends, by summertime they were gone,” she recalls. “They had transitioned from gun violence. So you kind of got… I don’t want to say numb, but used to hearing it.” She and Jada then relate with one another about essentially risking your life every time you went to a party in high school. “That’s traumatizing,” Lauren says. “To be 16 years old, having to be on guard when you go into a party.”
“You just get used to figuring out how to keep yourself safe in these environments,” Jada points out. “Most of us grow up in war zones. And I did not even realize that until my life changed. When I started to look at how my kids were growing up versus me. But that’s not their reality.” Later on in the episode, Jada, along with the rest of the ladies of Red Table Talk, speak with peacemaker and activist Erica Ford as well as gun violence survivors Rain Stippec and Dani Robinson. Watch the full episode below: