As many of my regular readers may know, David Hogg, one of the key leaders of the #NeverAgain anti-gun violence movement recently gained admission to Harvard University, an Ivy League. Hogg is a survivor of the infamous Parkland shooting, which occurred back in February. Following the shooting, he became politically active with regards to advocating for gun control.
Now, keep in mind that the acceptance rate of Harvard is 6% and that the bottom 25% of Harvard students have an SAT score of 1460. Hogg got into Harvard with an SAT score of 1270. A score of 1270.
I have many thoughts on Hogg's admission to Harvard, as I, too, am going through the exact same college process that Hogg is. Applying by November first, getting all of those last minute documents uploaded to various college portals, the anxiety, etc.: the whole shebang. The difference here is David Hogg is a white, cisgender male. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
I would like to quote a Tweet to start this post off, "while all the parkland survivors get into and attend ivys i think about all the poor kids, disproportionally Black children, who experience gun violence at home and in the streets not completing college, and being put in prisons. where is there full ride scholarship?" (@kickassical94 on Twitter).
David Hogg is profiting off of how he copes with his trauma (through political activism). And on the surface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, right? But dig deeper. Think about the Tweet I mentioned earlier. Hogg was able to lead the anti-gun violence movement because he exists in a place of privilege being a white, cis, male. The same privilege that many of the movement leaders benefit from.
I have been criticized for taking this position, have been told that I should be proud of him because of how involved I was in his anti-gun violence movement (I marched on Washington during the March for Our Lives and represented my school there). And of course I'm proud of him, he worked so hard on his movement. My pride and happiness for him is not negated by the fact that I am pointing out that he benefits unfairly because of his race, and thus, his socioeconomic position in society.
Hogg experienced something that so many more black and brown kids have to face, have to deal with every single day versus once in their lives at school. And these black and brown kids often end up in jail, or worse, dead. Many do not even go on to college, much less Ivy Leagues, and this is due to a combination of factors including race and economic stature. Had Hogg been brown and poor, he wouldn't have even had the resources, connections or funds to lead that movement in the first place.
I would also like to point out the masses of Asian-American students who are rejected from Harvard despite perfect SAT scores, well above Hogg's 1270. Another mentionable Tweet I read on this subject reads as follows, "David Hogg getting into Harvard with a 1270 SAT, yet Asian Americans with perfect SATs getting rejected based on their race. This is exactly what I mean when I say the Ivy League is wholeheartedly subjective politically and it is disgusting," (idebbz on Twitter).
The system is rigged. And it's rigged in favor of the white man. As it's always been. Hogg is just another example of this among millions.
The following piece is an article I wrote for The School of the New York Times while enrolled in the class, Writing About Youth Culture: Race, Identity and Social Behavior:
In early May, a court case hit the New York City news, in which a mother decided to take legal action against a private, Long Island Catholic school for their lack of action when her son, Devin, was victimized by racial slurs and tropes in a group chat. Devin’s mother, Ursula Moore, according to abc7NY, has filed a federal lawsuit. Devin was subjected to texts reading “black people are not functioning members of society” and photoshopped images of his own face on a gorilla as well as on a Nazi soldier. Based on information from NY Daily News, the boys sending these messages to Devin operated through an app called Discord, that is generally used by gamers for communicating amongst themselves. According to the Discord website, the app used allows for what the company calls a “voice and text chat”, in which several people can join a channel and send messages to each other.
This app is the perfect tool for white supremacists to find bonds amongst themselves over shared racism: to defend each other, to fuel each other’s views, and ultimately, to find a community in which they can be understood and respected for their viewpoints (twisted ones, albeit). With the invention of the Internet, geographic boundaries and different time zones are not an issue for them.
Devin and I may be from opposite sides of the United States, we may be three years apart in age, we may be of different ethnic backgrounds, but one thing we share is victimhood. Cyber racism.
This past April, a private group chat surfaced at my school, similar to the one that emerged at Devin’s. This one had been going on for over a year, unbeknownst to the larger student body. One of the individuals who was in the chat got cold feet and showed the chat to the administration and victims. Within this chat, many juniors participated in racist, homophobic and hateful behaviors towards specific individuals in my grade, including myself and my friends. They talked about killing my friends, used the n-word repeatedly, compared black students to monkeys and slaves, talked about "lynching negroes", made light of the Holocaust, used Nazi rhetoric, and more. Their language was often threatening, violent and frightening.
White supremacists, years before the Internet, before they could digitally hurt people like Devin and myself, used to unite their cause through printed newsletters, in which they would contribute their writings and find common interest in each other’s racism; this is a perfect example of how before the innovation of the Internet, white supremacists were bound by geography, Dr. Jessie Daniels, sociology professor and author, tells me over the phone.
“They could organize across geographic boundaries but it was much more difficult in print only”, says Daniels, who has written numerous publications regarding race relations, one of which is the book Cyber Racism, about the nuances of racism in cyberspace, “A part of what I documented in the Cyber Racism book is the rise of translocal whiteness...that people are finding community, and finding it around race...The problem comes when it’s white people doing that because they’re organizing around a particular ideology about race, which is white supremacy.”
Following the use of papers and newsletters to unite racist communities came hate organizations with geographical centers spread throughout any given area. I spoke on the phone with Shannon Martinez, a former member of a neo-Nazi organization who now works to rehabilitate people who have assumed the hateful lifestyle she managed to leave. “The same driving factors that drive people into a cult are the same things that drive them into gangs and white supremacy and Jihadism...they’re looking for a sense of belonging, on the fence of that surrogate family,” says Martinez, who also once found community built through the racism of an extremist organization.
Now, one of the most popular forms of meeting other like-minded individuals is the World Wide Web. The Internet has been conducive to the formation of digital communities via online group chats, social media apps, and websites; oftentimes, these communities find a connecting point in racism, as Daniels and Martinez mentioned. Before the development of social media and the popularization of online chat groups, most racists migrated to Stormfront, a website advocating white power and supremacy over all else. “Basically what’s going on now with the algorithms and with social media is...white supremacists have lots of other places to go besides Stormfront. And part of what they’re doing is they make sport out of particular kinds of online spaces,” says Daniels.
White people have colonized online avenues and formed communities since Stormfront, namely communities in group texting and communication applications. They use these applications to form a sense of community with one another by building off of each other’s racism, as was the case with Devin and myself.
In the group chat present at my school, each member used the racist rhetoric spewed by someone before them to further press their own hateful ideology. They worked together to build racist arguments in effort to form ties with one another and create a sense of trust within the chat.
I spoke to Ms. Moore and Devin over the phone and asked Devin if he felt that the boys in the group chat ganged up on him and used each other as fuel. Devin told me that the boys in the chat worked together with one another to create the photoshopped images of him, and described the dynamic of the chat as “three against one”. Ms. Moore added that the use of Discord, of the Internet, was what allowed them to actually enact such racism towards Devin in the first place. She said that they “banded together and it (the Internet) gave them the courage to do it”. The Internet, the group chat, allowed the bullies to form an insular community in which a rhetoric of white supremacy was developed and shared.
I’ve been on a mission to find out the “why” behind all of this, to figure out why young people are racist on the Internet. One of my teachers told me to give up; she told me that I could spend my whole life wondering why and never get anywhere closer to an answer. But I think I’ve found my answer. I talked to Daniels about my personal experience and about Devin’s, and she offered me this: “...I think with your experience with your high school classmates perfectly illustrates the point...they were enacting racism with each other as a kind of form of bonding and in this way that was damaging to their classmates.”
This past year (my junior year in high school), I took "Advanced Placement United States History"as a course at my school. The teacher for this course and for every junior year U.S. history course was a white man. There comes much responsibility with teaching American history, as it is a history built on systemic racism and other forms of prejudice. Thus, a white man teaching the course would need to be incredibly sensitive to his position of power as a white man imparting education regarding racial prejudice to young minds, and to young minds of color, specifically. Being a teacher yields him a certain amount of power granted by the authority of the teacher-student relationship. Yet even more power is given to him as he exists as a white man in a country historically dominated and controlled by white men. So, being a white male teacher of United States history, he must use his power incredibly carefully; he must communicate the experiences of People of Color in the United States while not existing as a Person of Color himself, while existing as someone who inherently profits off of the disenfranchisement of People of Color.
I, personally, do not know if there is a way to do this effectively, but I suppose if there was a law banning white men from teaching the history, we would have an uprising on our hands. My point is that white men historically raped, murdered, tortured and enslaved People of Color, and to have a white man teach the experiences of those marginalized peoples requires a certain level of carefulness.
My white man history teacher made a remark that the classmates at my table were quite bothered by. First, he showed the following picture:
The teacher shows a picture of the KKK at a carnival, most of my table mates are perhaps thinking that there may be some sort of historical significance to this image. However, the teacher goes on to say, "This is my favorite KKK picture, it shows how ridiculous the movement is" and then he begins to laugh. The rest of class (with the exception of my horrified table) laughs and calls the picture "hilarious". The teacher agrees and continues to laugh. The individuals seated at my table shared horrified looks and sent messages to each other describing their anger at the situation.
This is an example of a white, male history teacher abusing his power and being insensitive to the plight of People of Color, both historically and today. Why were his actions problematic? Because he minimized the impact the KKK had and continues to have on People of Color in America. Perhaps the KKK is funny to a white man, but to all of the People of Color that the KKK has killed and terrorized, the KKK represents a serious threat. Even more problematic is that this history teacher is teaching and shaping young people to see in the same way he does. Let us give the history teacher the benefit of the doubt for a moment - perhaps he did not intend to convey this message. Yet, this is the message I received, and the message the students at my table received. Even if it was a miscommunication or an accident, it is his responsibility to ensure that these situations do not occur. It is his responsibility to share the burden of history, not to make light of the experiences of People of Color.
My previous blog post was a Never Again movement presentation I organized and led at the school I have been in attendance to since sophomore year. As I was preparing the presentation, I carefully embedded much needed commentary on gun violence towards Black and Brown people. It is crucial, in my opinion, that race be a central topic of discussion in this new age of White anti-gun violence movements like the Never Again initiative. Because I had seen such a lack of rhetoric on race in the Never Again movement, I felt it important to discuss the racial disparities in instances of gun violence in my presentation.
It was suggested to me by a teacher at my school to run through my PowerPoint with my AP English Language teacher to make sure that all was kosher. As I was showing this English teacher my PowerPoint, they stopped me and suggested that I stay away from phrases such as "Black and Brown students" and "Black and Brown communities", citing issue with the words "Black and Brown". The teacher asked me to use more generalized terms, such as "Communities of Color", indicating that the use of the words "Black and Brown" was not appropriate.
The way I have thought about this incident has recently changed. Today, I attended a seminar hosted by The Atlantic called #RaceJusticeTX. The seminar held many speakers, from local Black Lives Matter organizers to criminal justice reform advocates. The focus of the event was to discuss the intersection of race and the American criminal justice system. During this seminar, two statements made by two different people in two different contexts made me realize how problematic what my English teacher said was.
One of the statements was made by Brandi Holmes, a Black Lives Matter organizer in Houston,
"One of the biggest issues (we) are facing is...we have failed to name that the structures that exist currently are racist structures. They are systemic racial issues that exist in the criminal justice system here in Harris County. And we have yet to name those things. We have yet to name the ways which White Supremacy affects Black and Brown communities in the city of Houston. We've talked about the jail and the jail being populated by a certain person, but we have yet to quantify who that individual is. In the jail you're seeing 56% of those people who are currently housed in a jail are Black folks. You add in the figure and include our Brown brothers and sisters and that (raises) that number up to 75%. Seventy-five percent of...the population in the jail are Black and Brown folks. We have yet to name what are causes and conditions that exist to put those people there in the first place. They're systemic racist issues that have created these structures, and until we can name those things; until we can say the word "racism", until we can say the words "White Supremacy", until we can say the words, "structural racism" and "mass incarceration"... I think that is going to really restrict the ways in which we move forward."
In the context the previous quote as well as in the context of my experience with the presentation I showed to my English teacher, I ask the following: How can we even begin to name systems of oppression if we do not first name those being oppressed? It is not enough to say "Communities of Color", because I do not see Asian people being gunned down by police officers. It is not enough to say "minorities" because, technically, white men are a global minority, but they aren't being systematically abused or mistreated. In order to even begin to approach naming structures of injustice, as Holmes spoke about, we must first be able to identify who is being dealt that injustice.
The second statement was made by an audience member who failed to give his name, but he said this:
"I have a statement. Sitting here I'm with Windham School District out of Huntsville and sitting here is kind of a(n) out of body experience for me. Because at eighteen years old...I was that one — I was going to sit here and be quiet and just listen, but when you said something about those orange jumpsuits and those handcuffs that don't separate and all that kind of stuff... I'm from Beaumont but I moved to Houston when I was eighteen years old in 1986. And just that kid, Sunnyside, just kind of hanging around, and just kind of milling around even though I had a scholarship to UofH, I was still that young Black kid just flowing, just rolling around and got caught up...and wind up going to Harris County and doing about three months...This is my thing, my statement: education should be about the transformation of self and society. So, if we're going to work with our young black boys, our young brown people; I hate the word "minority", I hate the word "African-American", I'm an American, I just happen to be Black. So I was born here and that's the way it is, okay? So, if we're going to change it, where these young brothers and sisters are no longer becoming parts of these systems: this systematic White Privilege that we see all the time and the systematic racism, we have got to inform them from the womb. I have two boys who are clean and upright and strong, and I have a daughter who's now going to Sam Houston for music therapy. The reason they are the way that they are... We begin to educate them from the womb. So, if we're going to change this thing, then we have to do what? Educate them. Educate them in the school, educate them in the home, educate them so that when they go out and meet a police officer, they will know their own rights instead of having to be all polite, because they don't know what this Mr. Policeman or Policewoman is going to do to them. So, my only statement is: education."
I pose another question: How can we educate our youth without properly effective and specific terminology? How can we teach our children how to combat oppressive forces without telling them first who is affected by such oppression? Furthermore, there are modes of oppression specific to Black individuals and modes of oppression specific to Brown individuals.
To paint race with such a broad brush, to fail to specify who is being targeted by violent oppression, is not much better than asserting that "we are all one race, the human race"; both are forms of avoidance — avoiding tackling the specificities of race and thus avoiding the combatting of subsequent oppression. This in itself could be considered perpetuating further racism; erasing an individual's identity for sake of a more generalized term, especially when that specific identity is crucial to the conversation of oppression at hand (in my personal anecdote, that being gun violence), is effectively contributing to the continuation of the structural systems of oppression that continue to prevail in the United States.
This avoidance and this erasure seem to stem from existing racist tendencies: Fear of the identities themselves, fear of naming them due to objections to advocating for them. If my English teacher can say "Communities of Color", my English teacher does not have to voice support for Black and Brown people but can hide behind the broader implications of the generalized term. Maybe my English teacher will stand alongside one race but not another. The use of the generalized "Communities of Color" on the part of my teacher allows for a significant amount of freedom and wiggle room in terms of justice; in terms of who my teachers oppresses and who my teacher supports. It allows for a distance to be put between my teacher and accountability.
The institution of racism can not be fought without specific terminology imparted through education. By insisting on generalization, my English teacher insisted on erasure of identity. This then begets further oppression of Black and Brown folks. The fact that an educator is perpetuating such ideology is damaging to the Black and Brown students who will take their class. An educator has a responsibility to ensure that their students have the best access to the most information possible, information unaffected by personal bias. Furthermore, a teacher who teaches rhetoric and composition must know how to use specific terminology in order to build a cohesive and convincing argument.
The next walkout date is set for tomorrow, Friday 20th. Many individuals within my school are participating in the walkout and are congregating in downtown Houston. I personally am remaining at school to lead programming on the home front, for all of the kids who cannot afford to make it to the walkout due to consequences for absences. Included are the elements of my presentation - a PowerPoint and a D'var Torah.
I have attended a range of schools in my life, including private secular schools, gifted and talented, Jewish modern-orthodox, Montessori, and pluralistic Jewish schools. One consistent factor within my time at each of these different schools has been the cultural appropriation of the Hamsa, which is also referred to as the Hand of Miriam or the Hand of Fatima. This appropriation has been committed by a variety of individuals, from secular Christians to goyim surrounded by a Jewish community -- and in every case it is wrong.
In order to understand why wearing the Hamsa is wrong if one is non-Jewish or non-Muslim, one needs to understand the historical and religious significance of the symbol.
The Hamsa has its roots in Middle Eastern countries, North African countries, and West Asian countries and is connected to Judaism and Islam. This hand is used primarily to ward off evil in each of these cultures and religions. (Source).
The Hamsa is called the Eye/Hand of Fatima in Islam, as mentioned before, which references Mohammed's daughter, Fatima. In Islamic stories, Fatima was cooking as her husband entered the home with a new wife -- Fatima, surprised, dropped her ladle. Though because she was focused on the new wife, she did not realize that she had been stirring with her bare hand instead of the dropped ladle, and did not notice the burns on her hand as she stirred. This is where the name of the Hamsa referring to Fatima comes from, making her hand a religious symbol. (Source).
In terms of historic representations of this symbol, the Hamsa is featured on the Puerta Judiciara of the Alhambra, Puerta Judiciara meaning the "Gate of Judgement". This structure dates back to the 1300s and is an Islamic fortress located in Spain. This is the earliest known representation of the Hamsa in history. This Hamsa seemingly corresponds to the word "khamsa" in Arabic, which means "five" , which is a number that is associated with battling the Evil Eye. The Hamsa on the Gate of Judgement draws on the five pillars of Islam with the five fingers appearing in the representation. (Source).
In terms of Judaism, the Hamsa is a Sephardic symbol. Historically, it is thought that Jewish individuals used the Hamsa to call upon the hand of G-d as well as to fight the Evil Eye. Many Hamsas have representations of fish within the palm of the hand, which references Rabbi Yose ben Hanina's Talmudic text that the children of Joseph (who were blessed to multiply like fish by Jacob) were protected from the Evil Eye just as fish are. (Source). In Judaism, the Evil Eye is often referred to as Ayin Hara. (Source).
In Kabbalistic amulets as well as manuscripts, representations of hands, specifically priestly hands, appear in place of the Hebrew letter shin, which is significant to Judaism as it is the first letter of Shaddai, a name of G-d. (Source).
Furthermore, in Judaism, Chaim Yosef David Azulai, also known as the Chida (source) referenced the number five in relation to protecting oneself against the Evil Eye; the Hamsa has five fingers and often is pictured with the Hebrew letter hey on it, which has the numerical value of five. (Source).
Though there is much more historical and religious context for the Hamsa in both Judaism and Islam, it is time to move on to why wearing the Hamsa as a gentile or as a non-Muslim is wrong.
Given all of this information, what the Hamsa truly means to both religions, how can one wear the Hamsa as a casual practice? My guess is that when reading this, you did not know every detail mentioned here regarding the origins of the Hamsa; in all probability, you did not know any of it, other than the fact that the Hamsa is used to ward off the Evil Eye. Imagine those Jewish and Muslim individuals who do know this context, who treasure this background -- to wear a Hamsa and have no real connection to the roots of the symbol is disrespectful.
Additionally, both Jews and Muslims are subjected to systemic forms of oppression based on their religion, culture and lifestyle -- based on wearing symbols like the Hamsa and carrying the history of the Hamsa with them, along with the history and meaning of countless other practices and symbols. To wear the Hamsa and not have to experience the same oppression that Jewish people and Islamic people have to face for wearing it feeds into oppression - anti-Semitism and Islamophobia - that works against these marginalized groups. By doing so, you are perpetuating the systems that actively isolate and alienate Jews and Muslims. It is unfair theft of someone else's lifestyle, their culture, and theft that comes at no price or cost to you - not even the same cost Jews or Muslims experience due to wearing that same symbol that belongs to them. When wearing such a symbol, Jews and Muslims carry with them a history of symbolic meaning, whereas when goyim or non-Muslims wear the hamsa, they wear it with a sustained history behind them of oppression towards these marginalized groups - they wear it with a systemic power over such groups.
I am a very religious individual, and in the context of my own religion, when I see a non-Jew wearing a Hamsa, even if they appreciate the meaning, I become offended - because they do not experience the oppression that comes along with wearing that symbol for Jews. They steal my culture with no reparations.
When identifying such cultural appropriation, it is of the upmost importance that we treat it with the gravity and seriousness it should be dealt with.
I mentioned the issue of appropriation of the Hamsa to an individual who self-identifies as “liberal”, such an individual saying, “I don’t care what people wear, people can wear whatever they want”. The issue here is we too often set aside subtle cultural appropriation as merely a style choice, such as this individual did, when in reality, it is an element of a larger system of oppression. Even “liberal” minded people are at risk of doing this, of dismissing the oppression of Jews. It is vital that anti-Semitism, in whatever form it takes, whether that be cultural appropriation or other, be taken seriously.
This week, on March 20th (Tuesday), Kellye Burke came to speak to the delegation my school is sending to the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.; Burke is a representative of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. Pictured above is a photograph I took with her (left) as well as a photograph from the beginning of her presentation (right).
Burke's presentation was thoughtful, insightful and informative. She spoke primarily on myths regarding the arguments presented by those who do not feel gun control legislation necessary. Among these myths Burke spoke of was, "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is good guy with a gun", Burke presenting statistics on how many instances a 'good guy with a gun' had actually done this (the answer is once). Besides deconstructing the arguments of the more radical gun owners and members of the NRA, Burke also touched on how America is disproportionally prone to gun violence compared to other western countries, especially in cases of domestic abuse and violence towards women.
I was thankful that Burke brought women into the conversation, but was disappointed that she did not address gun violence towards Black and Brown individuals in America. She said something about race in one sentence, but said that we could talk about it "later" with our teachers. I firmly believe that race needs to be a factor in this new wave of activism that has come with the Parkland shooting and subsequent movement on part of the surviving students. If leaders such as Burke do not bring race into the conversation, we are doing our nation a disservice.
One week ago, my school, The Emery Weiner School of Houston, participated in an organized memorial for the 17 who died in Parkland; a memorial which I actively participated in and spoke at. Videos and clips of our ceremony have gone viral in our local Houston community.
Our memorial purposefully coincided with National Walkout Day, but our service was not intended to be political (maybe it should have been, but it was not). It was specifically stated at the beginning of the service that the purpose of the event was not a political one. The media has represented our memorial service as a political action, as a call for gun control; while many students may desire the implementation of further restrictions on automatic rifles, the school itself, the student body, was speaking out to memorialize the dead students. However, comments from administration have further confused our intentions; last Friday (the 16th) an administrator called our memorial service a "rally" during the high school assembly, which is an inherently political word, while also stating that the intent of the service was not to push any political agenda or cover any political topic.
Though confused on intent, perhaps, our unity as a student body is clear- the public comments on the media coverage ranged from calling us "tide pod eaters" to "sheep" with a plethora of cruelty in between; the student body responded to almost every comment with the utmost respect and diligence, making sure that we were seen as the united community that we truly are. I was personally amazed at the responses of my peers; at the justice they were and are intent on pursuing.
I don’t think it was right for the student body to have been unaware that they were coming to film us. I don’t think the media understood the gravity with which we, as students, feel this situation needs to be treated. But what I do think is that this media coverage will help keep National Walkout Day in the news; help keep issues of gun control and gun safety in the news; help keep the conversation going. And that’s ultimately the bigger picture. So, I am proud to have spoken at Emery/Weiner’s memorial service today; I am proud to stand alongside my fellow students to incite change; I am proud of us.
Here are the links to the media coverage of our memorial service:
I am a junior in high school, and I attend a private school in Houston, Texas. My school is taking several students to the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C.; however, believing that this was not enough to remedy the issue of the culture [racialized] gun violence present in our school, I anonymously put up a few posters in two of the girls bathrooms regarding the dates for school walkouts for gun control, how to contact local government representatives, and how to educate oneself on the money the NRA gives to political organizations during election season. The posters contained no foul language or anything of the sort. I read the student handbook, which does not have any rules against such action.
The school staff said the following with regards to my posters — “[i]t puts us in a bad position as a school, we don’t know who is doing it but we can think of a few names”. The same day, the admin removed all of my posters from the bathrooms and met with teachers in private regarding my posters. I wanted to express my disdain at this situation.
To me, this harkens back to Martin Luther King Junior's words on the white moderate in his Letter From Birmingham Jail:
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate...the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom".
The school I attend, in this particular instance, seemed more devoted to 'order' than to justice; the posters were not school-sanctioned, so they had to be removed — the school supports gun control, but only on their time. This is a form of 'convenient activism' — halting direct action on the part of the demographic dying due to guns is the negative peace, the absence of tension, which they prefer.
But who better to create change than the teenagers who are being shot at? It is Students of Color within Generation-Z that are standing up now; people like Emma Gonzalez, leading the fight against [racialized] gun violence. Revolution does not occur on the watch of the oppressor.
Before they were removed, my posters received positive attention from students, which was my intention. Students were spreading the word on how to make a difference, using my posters as a guide.
I will include a printable version of my poster below, feel free to put it up everywhere you can, I know I am going to; I've been distributing them around my neighborhood and will continue to post them in public places.
An individual made a significant donation to my school, and thus a few spots to attend the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. have opened up; my school is planning on taking several students to participate in the march for gun control on April 24th. To gain a spot, one must submit an essay to be read by faculty (it is a blind application process), and the essay must be no more than one page. I thought I would include a copy of my essay here. I utilized rhetorical strategies I learned in my AP English III class to write this.
I want to go to the march on Washington to join the ranks of students changing our nation. This is our movement, my movement. It is not up to the adults anymore, it is up to the children, the teenagers. For years, issues of gun control, ‘gun rights’, and the ‘right’ to carry have been discussed among politicians, parents- perpetually every adult. But to what end? Have the shootings stopped? Has change been enacted? No. The most change that has occurred since Columbine has been in the two week period since the Parkland shooting, and that change was led by a group of teenagers.
I want to go to the march on Washington to be a part of this movement being led students. I need to go to Washington- it is my responsibility. I cannot stand by in the sidelines and watch this movement unfurl from afar; I must be on the front lines, holding up a sign and screaming for gun control. I am negligent, I am part of the problem if I do not participate in the movement for gun control, in the movement being led by teenagers like Emma Gonzalez.
Hillel the Elder once said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14. I must attend the march, for myself; I must prevent my future from being one of blood and death. I must attend the march, for my generation; I must make sure my peers live in a world where their voices are heard and their plans of action implemented. I must attend the march for the times; if this change does not happen now, it never will. I take Hillel’s words to heart, as a Jew and as a student during today’s call for gun control.
Audre Lorde once said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Gun control is not a new idea, and neither is reform, but teenagers leading the movement to call for those things is a new way of making the need for this change realized. I must heed to Lorde’s wisdom, I must be apart of the new way of making the need for the change realized; I am a teenager, I am a student, I am a member of those being shot at from the barrel of an AR-15 rifle, and thus my voice needs to be heard in this conversation regarding gun control.
Does it matter who attends this march, if it is a teenager? Yes, it matters. I am the right person to attend this march because I am well-versed in laws regarding guns, in the history of school shootings, and in current social and political matters. I alone have been running a social activism blog since I was thirteen years old, and have written on this particular issue as it pertains to Parkland. I am passionate about this cause, about stopping the death of my peers, my friends.
Does it matter who attends this march, if it is a teenager? Yes, it matters. I must attend this march. One of my dearest friends came home from her school sobbing because of a shooter threat, and begged her parents to let her stay home the next day. She does not have the opportunity to make her voice heard at this march, to tell Washington of her experience, but I do. I have the chance to represent her and every other student in peril. I have the responsibility to represent her and every other student in peril.
The adults of this nation have witnessed death by guns and have made it their normal. But I refuse to let it be the normal of my friends and my peers. I refuse to watch my generation be shot to death, one school shooting at a time.
The adults of this nation have failed their children- they have let us die en masse- 17 at a time. From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland, this began with the death of children and will end with the voices of children. My voice included, hopefully at the March for Our Lives.