Voices

‘What’s Columbine?’

Forty-seven days into 2018 and the United States has witnessed two mass shootings at schools. If that doesn’t leave us angry, then we are as much the problem as those who perpetrate these horrendous crimes.

Shutterstock

We are the only country in the world with regularly scheduled mass school shootings. Way to go, ‘Murica.

We are 47 days into 2018. We’ve had eight incidents of weapons being discharged at schools this year in the United States, two of them mass shootings by definition. If we aren’t angry as hell, then we are as much the problem as the person who pulled the trigger, the people who refuse to implement laws for the good of the whole, the people who hide behind the Second Amendment.

Different math: it’s been two days since the last school shooting. We have moved on to other things. Mass shootings – school or otherwise – are simply part of the way we now live in America.

We have a mass-shooting response ritual in full effect:

Start by thinking and praying for the victims and their families.

Send good thoughts to the first responders. (Bonus: Somebody puts a huge American flag near the site).

Turn to social media and kick up some dust. The Second Amendment folks defend the right to bear arms (which was great during, oh, the Revolutionary War, before anything semi-automatic arrived on the scene). The N.R.A. ducks the issue.

Go back and forth: If we had gun control laws, more people could have died (the argument after the Texas church shooting) because we wouldn’t have been able to shoot and kill the gunman.

The Onion publishes, again, as it has since 2014, the satirical story “No Way to Prevent This.”

Debate mental illness. He (mass shootings are largely committed by white men) was so quiet. Perhaps if he had gotten help … which is true, but he hadn’t gotten help and had purchased a semi-automatic rifle.

Finally, we promise to never forget, which we do as soon as the next basketball game comes on (or in my case, watching Black Panther).

————-

The attack in Florida is the eighth shooting this year that has resulted in death or injury at a school. That’s about one per every 5.5 days, not including other violence committed by people with guns.

Whether you have kids or not, this should make you sick to your stomach and ashamed at our failure to protect our children.

And this big thing called The Gun Lobby, with its congressional lackeys, knows we have short memories. Quick – where was the last mass school shooting, before Parkland? Our fuses are short. The Gun Lobby knows that it can wait out the uproar of even the most horrible attack. Give folks a few days, maybe get past the funerals, everybody will burn out.

That sounds callous. But that is where we are as a collective, and it’s an insane way to ask children to live (even though black kids in America have been living in fear for, hmm, centuries). Each time this type of violence happens, it gets harder to explain away.

A huge part of me is relieved each time this happens that it’s usually NOT a person of color committing the crime. If perpetrators had faces of color, laws would be changed real fast. But most of these shooters are white men.

This pitiful place we are in, ‘Murica, is exactly where we have been heading from jump. You really can’t build a country on violence and hatred and expect those qualities to NOT become embedded and entangled in collective DNA, in the soil, the air. Everyone gets hurt, and children die.

I thought after Sandy Hook, when the victims were tiny and blonde, that somebody would say “enough.” But no. Everybody’s kids are up for sale now.

————-

Every. Five. Days.

If the Gun Lobby (or anybody else) can’t give thoughts and prayers to me in the good times, I don’t want them in the bad, especially when it’s a bad of their own making. A gun was found in the bathroom at my daughter’s college yesterday. I want my children to be able to walk into a theater and watch an overpriced movie without being fucking shot. I want them to be able to go to a place of faith and do their praying IN PEACE. I want them to go to an overpacked nightclub and dance their asses off in fucking peace.

I fear they will hold their children on their laps and explain weak, blind trust in an uncaring system. Fixing the system would go deeper than fixing gun laws. And because my kids are black, they already face racism and a life of dealing with an uncaring system.

————-

“What’s Columbine?” called my mom-in-law from the kitchen.

April 20, 1999. I was home with a 10-day-old baby and her 18-month-old sister.

“It’s a flower,” I yelled back from my warm space the balcony. I sat there in the afternoons, eating cookies with my toddler.

“WHERE is Columbine?” my MIL called.

I poked my head inside the apartment, glancing at the television, which was on CNN. I stared, confused, at the lines of teenagers rushing from a school.

————-

Fast-forward three years to sitting with a brand-new kindergartener and the principal to discuss a problem.

“We were explaining lock-down procedures,” the principal said.

My tiny and serious daughter in her t-shirt, jeans and flowered Doc Martens hadn’t believed when the teacher explained that bad people with guns might get into the school, but the teacher would keep them safe.

“What if that doesn’t work?” Alex had asked

The teacher said it would.

“How do you know?” Alex had said.

Nobody saw the irony in explaining lock-downs to a four-year-old. We knew we couldn’t fully protect our children from bad guys.

Four-year-old Alex let us know that she knew it, too.

————-

If you believe in the science of nurture, then you must realize we are not, as a society, nurturing our children by allowing these events.

If you believe in the science of nature, you have to think that these stunned children who see violent images daily or, worse, live through the events, will grow up with altered DNA. This results from post-traumatic stress disorder, which will pass down through the generations. Perhaps our whole country has this disorder. It would explain so much, and it requires treatment to change.

What’s curious is that often the same people who will go to the mat to prevent a woman from getting an abortion will also be the first to yell “Second Amendment.” Is one life different than the other?

That is a rhetorical question. The NRA has put more than $42,000,000 into the pockets of 10 U.S. senators. I didn’t even add up the numbers for U.S. representatives or the rest of the Senate.

That money translates to our kids’ lives.

Our country has a rabbit hole of woes that seems to be collapsing on us. Don’t talk to me about snowflakes wanting to hinder safety. If this were truly about safety, we would have made different decisions years ago.

The sick thing is we continue on the same path, either not expecting any better or knowing it won’t be solved and being too exhausted to find a way to fully respond. Money and power count more than the lives of young ones, concert goers, Sabbath seekers. Our collective brains are wired to expect the worst, drown out violence, and continue as before. Common decency has failed to beat out the price Congress feels is worth our children’s lives.

This isn’t new to anyone of color. For us, it’s business as usual.

But it should disgust us all.

Woman of color tries to maintain her cool in a country that consistently pushes her closer to the edge.

More Stories from Qcitymetro

Comments

Most Popular

'SuperFly': a updated version of the '72 classic

‘SuperFly’: a updated version of the ’72 classic

It's time for black Americans to think strategically about charter schools

It’s time for black Americans to think strategically about charter schools

Local sorority collects food to help those in need

Local sorority collects food to help those in need

Presence matters more than perfection: Saluting fathers everywhere

Presence matters more than perfection: Saluting fathers everywhere

Our Partners