A week ago, I was sitting in my room making a sign for the march I was attending the next day. I had made previous travel arrangements with the Democratic Organization for my county, who were renting out coach buses to take to Washington DC & giving us fancy lunches, for free.
I hate to admit that although this was supposed to be a day of solidarity and progress and thoughts of a brighter future, there were times on the bus on the way to DC, instants standing in big crowds, and moments, which would get more and more repetitive in the days that followed, where I couldn’t help but feel guilty, stagnant, pointless. Like I was marching in place.
Guilty for the fact that it has taken people this long to acknowledge that gun violence in this country is an issue, and guilty that once we have acknowledged it, it is made into such an exclusive, segregated issue due to the fact that we are only caring to see the problem within a predominantly white school in a privileged suburban community; not in the streets of South Chicago, not in the projects of Baltimore, not in South Central, not in the minds of black kids fearing for their lives on their walks to and from school, not in the hearts of those who know they have to drive cautiously, because their absence of a turn signal could cost them their lives.
Yes, we have come this far. Yes, we are finally talking about it. Yes, we are teenagers who should not have to talk about this, but unfortunately, no one else will, and fortunately, we are good at it. But, if we are going to talk about this, we must create an open, honest dialogue. Where are all the white women who wear pussy hats to the Women’s March, and bring their megaphones to the March For Our Lives when people like Alton Sterling and Stephon Clark are in need of justice too? Where are the people who get upset when their kids have to have lockdown drills when other children across the country are learning how to properly hide under their desks from a shooter before they are learning to read?
Speakers like Edna Chavez, like Naomi Wadler, like Christopher Underwood, like Aalayah Eastmond, and many more pushed this idea forward & did not fail to mention the underlying one-sidedness of many people’s gravitation toward this movement.
If we are going to say “Never Again” for some people, we must say “Black Lives Matter” for others. If we are going to be supplied with free buses and food, and such mass exposure for a march against senseless gun violence in general, we must be supplied with these resources for marches against senseless gun violence within the police force, within the educational system, within city streets. If we are going to call this a movement, we must acknowledge previous movements, and the impact they have had on our confidence to be the leaders of this one. If we are going to go out and march for those shot in a suburb in southern Florida, then we must also go out and march for those who stare down the barrel of a gun much more often, and are paid attention to much less. We must be the ones who pay attention to these people, and speak with them. I must do better, you must do better, we must do better.