I felt nothing.
And, usually, I feel everything.
I’m the person who watches a Campbell’s soup commercial and tears up at the family joy being shared over a bowl of soup. The person who cries when the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl because “people have waited so long for this!” And I’m a Giants fan! Yea, it’s bad.
That said, it frightens me to know that my initial response to hearing a gunman murdered 17 individuals in a school in Florida left me feeling nothing. Mass shootings have become a normal part of life in America. And I, for one, am terrified and furious that this is the case.
And, I’m so sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans articulating that there’s “nothing we can do,” and that “people kill people, not guns.” Well, it sure as shit is a lot harder to kill another person with a plastic fork than with an AR-15.
It took until I actually looked at photos of the victims and listened to the heart wrenching interviews of the friends and parents of individuals whose lives were stolen in order for me to feel something. And, it wasn’t until that moment – the moment when I stopped and forced myself to look at the faces of the children killed – that I truly felt something. Tears of dejection and rage streamed down my face last night as I questioned what it means to live in this country.
Only in America.
A country that claims to be the “Leader of the Free World” when the only two things we are leaders in are mass incarceration rates and mass shootings. By a long shot.
Only in America do people try and build a wall to keep out black and brown bodies who might be a “threat to our civil liberties,” while simultaneously saying that “there were some pretty good people out there” at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Only in America do we demonize the unarmed black or brown victims of police shootings by claiming they “smoked weed,” or “were aggressive,” or were “illegally selling cigarettes,” as if to justify their death, while simultaneously stating that white people who commit acts of DOMESTIC TERRORISM were “mentally unstable” and should be empathized with. In fact, Dylann Roof was taken to Burger King after he shot up a black church in Shelby, North Carolina because he was hungry after murdering 9 people. “It’s not about race,” though, right?
Go ahead. Say it. I’m a “liberal snowflake” who “makes everything about race” and who is so worried about “political correctness.”
I’m a person who is worried about other people, regardless of their race, gender, class, or sexual orientation. I’m a “snowflake” who believes people should all have a fair shot at life. I’m a “snowflake” who believes in humanism.
And don’t you dare try and tell me I’m unpatriotic. I love this country. Some of the people I look up to the most fought for this country – my dad, and my grandfather. I support our military unconditionally, and I support the brave people who put their lives on the line as firemen and police officers every day.
But, yea, I also say Black Lives Matter. Because, like it or not, police brutality is an issue in this country. And I don’t support bad cops who kill people in cold blood. Does this mean I think every cop is bad? No. But, I do think the ones who are bad deserve to pay for it. Just like I think people who are awful teachers, and don’t put their kids first, should be fired.
Patriotic people aren’t afraid to criticize their country, knowing that it can be better. That’s what our Founding Fathers wanted. And, right now, our country is failing us. All of us.
And I’m so sick and tired of the hypocrisy. I’m sick and tired of the same people condemning abortion, but not fighting for the Americans who are born into families living in poverty or the individuals in this country who are alive and being murdered by assault rifles in schools, at concerts, and countless other places.
I’m sick and tired of inaction. I’m sick and tired of Democrats being afraid to stand up to the GOP and the gun lobby.
I’m sick and tired of people assuming that because I work in a school that serves black and brown students from low income neighborhoods, that they should ask me if I “feel safe.” Check your privilege, and stop believing the stereotypes about people of color you see on television. I feel safe and loved every single damn day at my school. My students are fantastic human beings who, despite growing up in poverty, are resilient, hard-working, loving, kind individuals. So, stop asking me that. Perhaps you should start asking the teachers of white children in suburban public schools if they feel safe because mass shooters in America all seem to have one thing in common: white skin.
Only in America – a nation that enslaved African Americans for over two hundred years, and then had segregation for an additional 90 years – would people articulate that “not everything is about race” and that black and brown people would be fine if they just “worked a little harder.”
I’m sick and tired of this country, man. I’m sick and tired of the hypocrisy, the murder, the culture of white supremacy, and the denial. I’m sick and tired of the corruption and the deals that happen behind closed doors that prevent congress men and women from doing what is right.
Watch the videos of the parents who sent their children to school only to be brutally murdered and never come home. Tell them that “people kill people.”
We are failing. This country is failing.
And, right now, I feel helpless.
But, tomorrow I will stop.
Tomorrow, I will call my representative and implore him to take action. “How many more?” I will ask.
And, I sure as hell will be using my voice to vote during midterm elections.
Will things change immediately? No.
Do I want to give up hope? Yes.
But, I refuse.
The lives of our upcoming generations depend on it.
So, I’m going to fight.
What are you going to do?