This chilling video, part of The Dream Defenders’ #VestOrVote campaign to get out the Black vote and fight Stand Your Ground laws and the politicians who support them, made my heart stop.

The campaign, created by the Florida-based student activist group, features a short, moving black-and-white video and also a website and billboards with a common theme: a bulletproof vest for youth that parents can purchase for their children to wear when they leave the house. At the website for the Dream Defenders, the Dream Vest for Youth appears to be on sale for $149, with an ad featuring a gorgeous young boy modeling a black bulletproof vest and wearing a happy smile with his arms outstretched. In the black-and-white commercial, a mother persuades her reluctant son to wear the bulletproof vest to school with the plea: “I need to know that when I’m at work, you’re going to be safe,” she says to him, as he looks at her skeptically. “Do it for me.”

It’s what happens when she snaps the vest into place that throws me into a complete tizzy.

“No one wants to live in a world where bulletproof vests are the norm,” the website says in words that accompany the ad. “Vote on November 4th (and earlier, in Florida and most states), and let’s together take a stand on laws, like Stand Your Ground, that create fear and insecurity in our communities. Show your support by sharing the video using the hashtag #VestOrVote.”

Political director Ciara Taylor said the Dream Defenders bulletproof vest video and ad are meant to immediately grab the public’s attention.

“Our campaign is meant to be provocative, meant to be chilling, meant to wake people up,” she said in an interview with “Although it seems like a big exaggeration about the importance of voting, it really isn’t. It’s a warning about what can happen in the future if the Black community doesn’t pay attention to politics and the way it affects our lives. It’s not the end all or the be all, it won’t solve all the conflicts in our community, but it’s a great start. It’s an important action we can take as citizens to be politically engaged in this process.”

Press play and, more importantly, understand the message and do the right thing on November 4: vote for pols who truly care about the issues that matter to us.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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