Safety shouldn't be a privilege.
Originally posted March 24, 2018 on the previous Little Mountains Blog website.
I have to be honest – I don’t exactly know how to write about this as a fairly privileged white woman from California. I feel like before I begin I need to admit my ignorance – I have lived most of my life aware that gun violence is out there but not used to it as my reality. I know that being able to say that makes me extremely lucky. But even from where I stand, if I can be one more voice in this great roar for change, I will not give up that opportunity.
I’ve spent the morning watching teenager after teenager speak at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. via Facebook live stream. I have not been able to stop crying. These kids – KIDS – have seen more violence and pain and death by gun violence than I can even imagine. They come from all different walks of life but today they are gathered under one goal – to end senseless gun violence in America. Their passion and conviction to be the change is not only astounding, but empowering. I strongly, strongly encourage you to take the time and watch these speeches if you haven’t already.
Almost everyone who spoke was under the age of 18, but at least two were as young as 11 and in only 6th grade. As I watched these strong, fearless children speak, I couldn’t help but reflect on what was happening in my life at that time. I was in 6th grade in 2005, the year after Congress let the assault weapons ban from 1994 expire. But I wasn’t aware of that back then – my concerns were more along the lines of what role I’d get in the class play and what tacky early-2000s fashion choice I’d make next. I see now what incredible privilege I had to not be worrying about whether I’d be staring down the barrel of a gun or not before school got out at 3 o’clock.
But that’s the thing – safety from gun violence shouldn’t be a privilege. It shouldn’t be something only afforded to white people in one of the most liberal states in the nation. It should be a given. If kids aren’t able to get an education without fearing for their lives, no matter what community they live in, that’s a VERY serious problem.
It broke my heart watching kid after kid speak out against the violence that has come to be their reality, their norm. The shooting in Parkland, Florida is getting tons of attention because those kids are passionate, strong individuals who are able to leverage their position as students within an affluent community. They are able to capitalize on not having to crawl out from under layers of systemic oppression before their voices can be heard, and I don’t think using their position to create change is a bad thing. But this kind of violence has been going on for far too long in underprivileged communities snarled by a system that habitually overlooks them, and it’s time to change that for every single child in the country.
For me, it’s scary to talk about this because I know there are so many conflicting opinions and talking about political issues always invites controversy. It’s the same fear that kept me from writing about the #MeToo movement when I know I should have. But these things are bigger than me and my pride and my feelings. The bottom line is this – innocent children are losing their lives all over the country due to lax gun-buying restrictions and bull-headed, NRA-funded politicians who refuse to enact change.
And all you need to call bullshit on that is common sense.
For more information and to be part of the change, visit these resources: