Mass Shootings, Parkland, and the Minority Observer
By Abina George
Gun violence has permeated American culture. So many Americans know those who have been affected by gun violence, yet its prevalence has greatly increased over the years. Decades have passed with politicians and leaders putting legislation on the back burner. Minorities have cried out for help and mothers mourned the loss of their children only for our screams and tears to go unnoticed.
Columbine took place when I was a young child. In high school, I remember tearfully listening to Flyleaf’s Cassie which relives the debate that Cassie, a victim of the Columbine shooting, had in her last moments. The shooter asked her if she believed in God and as the song swoons in teenage angst, she said yes, and she was murdered. I expected after such a tragedy that our nation would fix the problems that caused this to ensure a safer environment. My school had one active shooter drill in the four years I attended. I never remember being fearful that someone would enter and decide to slaughter my classmates and I. Present day students don’t have this luxury.
Let’s consider Colin Kaepernick. Although he was well known in the NFL, he became a household name when he chose to kneel and during the national anthem. Mr. Kaepernick was deeply concerned with the violence he saw against the black community and was referencing police brutality and overall violence with his protest. This message, however, was drowned out by the outrage people felt when he chose to kneel for the anthem in protest. Regardless of one’s personal feelings about him kneeling, he sought to bring publicity to a gun violence issue that was being swept under the rug. Instead of his cause receiving just attention, he was labeled a traitor to the United States and unofficially expelled from the league.
Before Kaepernick, Black Lives Mattered petitioned the community to action against police and general brutality and violence against minorities, especially the black community. These peaceful protests were presented by media as protests by thugs and criminals wanting to evade the consequences of crimes they committed. Furthermore, the organization was accused of black supremacy when its organizers were just protesting the right to live safely and not have their lives stolen away. Countless minority lead grassroots organizations tried to introduce the notion of stronger background checks and evaluations for our law enforcement and citizens requesting gun permits and the right to own a firearm, but our voices are never heard.
I am so awestruck by the Parkland kids. They are so young and have spearheaded a national movement in response to trauma they should have never endured. I support all of you who fight to make this nation safer. My issue comes from the fact that our fair skinned brethren were acknowledged when minorities have been fighting for these safe spaces for years. Everyone should have the right to attend a school without the concern that a rogue citizen might murder them. People should have the benefit of attending a concert without the worry that those rhythms filled moments would be their last. Everyone should have the freedom to have a night on the town without concern that that night might be their last.
Gun violence is overarching over each of the situation and communities but was ignored when thought of as a rogue event, a plague of the smaller communities. Thoughts and prayers abounded but since these even never personally affected politicians, nothing was ever done, and our cries were silenced.
The Parkland students have made great strides in their movement and have mobilized the nation. They have been inclusive of the minorities and given them space to voice their concerns about gun violence and ownership. Despite the progress of the civil rights movement, most brown people still need a white spokesman to be heard.
It’s time that this country stops treating minorities as children in need of a chaperone. Our leaders want to make our people and culture seem so alien from their own that they believe that our needs and concerns for safety are imaginary. Because they don’t have to deal with an issue, they turn a blind eye until it effects and tries to decimate their own communities.
Many erred thinking that the problem was isolated to minorities, particularly black people but became distraught when it also happened in their communities. Murder shouldn’t happen to anyone regardless of your cultural background or your socioeconomic positioning.
As a result, there is a nation of schoolchildren terrified that there will be a gunman targeting their schools. Our next generation is afraid that when they move into public spaces, they may be the target of a deranged killer. Kids are taught what to do if faced by a gunman rather than the adults and leaders taking steps to ensure that our children will never encounter a gunman.
Unfortunately, now that my fair-skinned neighbors are engaged, their pain is only criticized, and the agony of the American people only multiplies. Losing a child to gun violence is a painful experience that should never have to happen. We should all take steps together to keep guns out of the hands of murders.
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