March for Our Lives 2018

*Reposted because it accidentally got removed*

On March 24th, I had the privilege in participating in the March for Our Lives. I was originally planning to march here in Texas, where I live, but since I ended up being at the Mayo Clinic on the 24th, I Marched in Rochester, MN.

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“Our Youth are Our hope”

The high schoolers who put on the March did an incredible job! They gave fiery passionate speeches, and were able to organize around 2,000 people to march with them. For a town the size of Rochester, it was pretty amazing. This was my first ever march, and I’m glad I started with one on the relatively small side. Luckily, the March itself was very short, so it wasn’t too much walking.

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” I thought you were pro-life”

I hope we see real political change come from these marches. Even though I have no connection to Emma Gonzales, I feel so proud of her (as weird as that may sound). She is so unapologetically herself, and has stood strong even with all of the hate from republican politicians, while grieving her friends and processing an incredibly traumatic event.

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“ENOUGH”

My one criticism of the conversation to come out of the march, is the lack of conversation around police brutality and gun violence. You cannot ignore police brutality when talking about gun violence, as they are a major perpetrator of gun violence. Black peoples voices have not been highlighted, when they have been advocating for gun control for so long without any one listening. I get them centering the voices of kids affected by school gun violence, particularly mass shootings, as this was the main reason for the march, but gun violence goes so much deeper than that. It would have been nearly impossible to include all of these conversations in one march, and I think it was smart of them to focus the march particularly on mass school shootings, but I do think there should be more discussion about different types of gun violence.

I really enjoyed being able to March… but my body did not. The actual march was only like 0.3 miles, but my body went crazy afterward. I was so incredibly fatigued and exhausted that I could barely move for six hours, and it took me two days to get significant relief. Sometimes with chronic illness you have to chose when it’s worth it to “overdo it.” I knew I wouldn’t do well after this, but it was so important to me. I may have felt like hell afterwards, but the experience of being there and standing up for what I believe in made it completely worth it.

 

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What It’s Like Currently Being a Student in America

I’ve grown up in a post-Columbine world. The talk of school shootings is not something new to me, I’ve been taught how to prepare for one my whole life. I’ve spent hours siting in dark classrooms, huddled in the corner with my classmates praying it’s only a drill. As of February, there have been a total of 18 school shootings in 2018. The latest, taking place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people.

As a current student, this terrifies me. Many days I wake up wondering if I could be next. I’ve made action plans for every classroom I go to, in case I find myself in an active shooter situation. When I see students walking with their hands in a hoodie, I wonder if they’re concealing a gun. When I hear screaming in the hallway, I immediately think “where should I hide?” The worst part about all of this is that it is a preventable issue, yet our government just won’t do anything to prevent it.

I don’t want to be the next victim of a school shooting. I don’t want to see my classmates be victims of a school shooting. I don’t want to see anymore children die in school a shooting. We’re required by law to go to school from the time we turn five until we graduate from high school, and yet we are not safe there. I may now be in college, and have made the decision to be in school, but I still deserve to be safe. No students will be safe until we have gun control, and no students will be safe until our government stops taking money from the NRA.

It is not too soon, now is the time to talk about this. April 20th, 1999 was the time to talk about gun control, December 14th, 2012 was the time to talk about gun control, February 14th, 2018 was the time to talk about gun control, and yet we didn’t. We’ve become so numb as a nation that we get over mass tragedy is a few weeks. We don’t even remember the details of all the recent shootings, because there have been so many. The victims of these horrific acts of violence deserve to be remembered. They deserve justice, and that can only come when we, as a nation, make sure this never happens again. People my age and younger, like Emma Gonzalez, are having to step up and lead a movement. Children, and people who are barely adults, should not have to constantly tell grown-ups that our lives are worth more than your right to own an automatic weapon.