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.

 

Contemplating Societies Response to Murder Victims

David Sherrard, a Texas police officer, was killed last week after responding to a disturbance call, where he was shot. Later that week his funeral was held, and I just so happened to be driving on the highway that his funeral brigade was being led down. At first I didn’t realize what was going on. There were tons of people sitting on the grass next to the highway, and at least 75 cars pulled over on the shoulder. Finally, when I saw all of the first responder vehicles and tow trucks holding massive American flags, I understood what was happening.

It was tragic and beautiful at the same time. So many people came out to pay their respects to him. I may not be a fan of the way our justice system is run, and I 100% condemn the actions of the racist police officers who continue to target and kill people of color. However, in this situation an innocent man was murdered when trying to respond to a disturbance call and protect the neighborhood. He left behind a wife, two daughters, and countless other friends and family members. The response to his murder brought tears to my eyes and sent chills rushing down my body.

I in no way mean to down-play the severity of this situation or the massive loss his friends and family members are going through, but it made me think about how we respond to other murder victims. When police officers are the victims, hundreds of people gather and make donations. We hear news stories for weeks, and hold huge candle-lit services. However, when the victim is an unarmed black man, who was murdered by the police during a traffic stop, the majority of our society is silent. The victims community steps up, and black people continuously call out the injustice, but the world does not respond in nearly the same way. Where are the hundreds of people waiting to pay their respects to them? Why do we value some lives more than others?

I’m not saying that the response to Sherrard’s death is wrong or unwarranted, I just believe we should have a conversation about why we don’t respond to other victims the same way. We should be even more outraged when the victim is a civilian, let alone a civilian killed by police. It is a tragedy when anyone is murdered, and we should respond in the same way. First responders lives are not more valuable than civilians lives. Every human life has value, and the loss of anyone, especially when they’ve been murdered, should evoke a strong feeling in all of us to pay them respect, and make sure we can do everything in our power so it doesn’t happen again. I want to see hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to victims of police brutality. Yes, some cases do make it in the news, especially in the last few years, but so many others go unknown. These people deserve the same response and respect that police officers get, and above all they deserve to be treated like their life had the same value.