A shot caller is “an individual in a gang or neighborhood who has a high status.” This person doesn’t execute the shots; s/he has already played that role. Shot callers are power brokers who set the rules for what will and will not happen. In some ways they have more power than “legitimate” community leaders like pastors, police officers and politicians. Shot callers come from the community, building their reputations on the streets. People know shot callers for what they do; they have earned the right for people to listen to what they say.
How do legitimate leaders become shot callers? Simply, they earn it the same way that gang leaders do, by putting in work on the block, being known first for what they do. Actually, we find a model for this in Christianity, in Jesus.
Jesus was a shot caller. His name rang out on every block. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. People heard about not only who he was, but what he could do. Jesus built his reputation through his actions on the streets.
Legitimate leaders call shots all across the country. We just need more of them. We need more leaders willing to earn the right to call the shots, to order that killings cease, to order mentors for our children, to ensure the safety of our communities. Who’s calling the shots on your block? What can you do to be known as a shot caller for change?
Romal J. Tune
Communicator, Community Strategist,
and Education Consultant