I’m Black and Support Gun Rights

It doesn’t take much to understand that if you’re vulnerable in your environment, you may need to act in self-defense

Mansa Brice
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readMay 30, 2020

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Two members of the Black Panther Party are met by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA on May 2, 1967. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

I’d just moved into a beautiful, cozy home, a lovely two-bedroom with a massive backyard for the dog to waddle in the dirt, in Oildale — by far the shittiest part of Bakersfield, California.

Let me say now: I was warned multiple times. Not by posters or signs, but word of mouth. (There’s a bit of an oral tradition in Oildale.) But this is 21st-century America, I thought, and this is California! It couldn’t be that bad. I soon learned that Bakersfield was a sundown town, a city that was rooted in racism.

I quickly acclimated to the town — surprisingly warm and welcoming, at least on the surface. We have our racist underbelly in Texas, but it’s mostly smothered into quiet pockets and unspoken in the stretch between Killeen and Austin. Any man in my position, especially coming from the military, would expect a similar welcome after moving to “progressive” California.

But it didn’t take long to notice some suspicious activity. It started with the whistling — my first introduction to “peckerwood” gang culture. The flavors on my streets were the Oildale Peckerwoods, the Southwest Peckerwoods, and the 88 WHITE POWER GANG. When I would take trips around the neighborhood, whether a quick stroll to the convenience store or a bike ride to the liquor store, I’d hear a whistle in the distance: the peckerwood call.

A few meth heads whistling aren’t going to strike too much fear in my soul. But the evening I had a group of men screaming, “Get the hell out, nigger!” in my front yard, a line was crossed. At the time, I was virtually defenseless. I couldn’t escape my own home, so I decided it was time to defend it.

Many people misunderstand the process of buying a weapon in the United States. First, you need to swing by a shop and present your ID, which will start an investigation. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks if you have a criminal background. It can take one to three days to get that settled if you’re federally cleared. If you want a pistol, there’s a more prolonged wait to get one. So I decided on a shotgun.

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Mansa Brice
LEVEL
Writer for

Personal Trainer, Super Tramp Vagabond, Sociology, Anthropology, Black Experiences, Dog Dad, Other Asstd Titles :)