By: Katie Quigley
Wednesday, February 14, 2018: the day we took our futures into our own hands.
The day we turned to our TV screens, Twitter, the “breaking news” headlines popping up on our phone screens; seeing teenagers, arms raised above their heads, running from the building they had once innocently entered. Only a few hours prior, eyes once set on a typical day- a day they assumed would be spent learning about the world around them, not living through the most devastating, horrific depths of it.
These kids, or, rather, these survivors who have taken their grief and pain and turned it into energy that is fueling an entire generation right now, have been bringing tears to my eyes with their courage since that dreadful afternoon. To scroll back on their Twitters, past their persistent fight against the NRA, their inspiring words, their pleas for change, to the days prior to their face-to-face encounters with murder, is to uncover normal teenagers, just like each and every kid who attends James Caldwell High School.
Delaney Tarr, a senior and student journalist at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, recently submitted an Op-Ed to Teen Vogue describing her experiences and her message for this nation going forward:
“There are so many things, so many simple teenage things, that now feel insignificant: Who will we go to prom with? What college are we going to? Now, the only thing that dominates our mind is: How do we keep more children from being murdered? We have been forced to push aside the integral, simple realities of being young adults, and be outspoken about an unspeakable tragedy, one we shouldn’t have had to witness.”
This nation averages a mass shooting every 63 hours, and these teenagers are being treated accordingly. The cowards who sit in this nation’s highest positions, aside from their ever-so-prosperous “thoughts and prayers,” have been sitting back since the 14th, seemingly anxious for these teens to fizzle out- to eventually silence themselves. But as a generation of kids who have been falsely coined, and treated, as the end of the millennial era- those born within the years of 1977 and 1994, we’ve worn the notorious “millennial” badge of shame, created by the generations prior to us, for our entire lives- a badge most commonly connected with “participation trophies,” antisocial tendencies, and dependency- the expectations of failure coming from the people who seemingly preside above us are quite humorous.
From the darkest moments at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have emerged a power team- Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, and Emma Gonzalez have taken the media by storm, appearing on NBC, CNN, and even Fox News, informing, not suggesting, this broken country of their plans- because if our own government can’t help us, we might as well do it ourselves.
“Never want to hear another adult talk condescendingly about millenials/young ppl ever again. Face the hopeful, intelligent, unwavering presence of your future leaders of America,” writes Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams, via Twitter, a response that the musician had to the multitude of brave interviews and doubtful questioning that these young activists have been tackling since the shooting. Cameron Kasky, for instance, who argued Marco Rubio’s pathetic stance on the illegitimacy of gun restrictions in a live interview with Face The Nation, stated, without ever breaking eye contact with the camera:
“It’s not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us. The fact that we even have to do this is appalling. Our job is to go to school, learn, and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That’s why you were, unfortunately, elected. Your job is to protect us, and our blood is on your hands.”
While Cameron, David, Emma, and a handful of others tackle their doubters, like Fox News, whose current task at hand is conjuring up bizarre conspiracy theories to explain the activism coming from the “millennials” they love to shun, and show their thanks for their supporters through interviews and responses to the American people’s tweets, an even bigger group of Douglas students are bringing their voices all the way to Tallahassee- their state’s capital. These teens have proven themselves as a weak, money-hungry leader’s worst nightmare. How ironic.
Projecting their voices past the state level, these teenagers are bringing their voices to our nation’s capital- on March 24th, a march on Washington, as well as sister protests in major cities across the country, will be held as an effort to bring even more unwavering attention to this very American issue. As Cameron, David, and Emma have said, countless times, this activism is not a conservative versus liberal issue. It is a human issue. Though uncomfortable, this conversation is a necessity. It is necessary to end the constant game of Russian roulette with the lives of American children. It is necessary to bring an end to the days of American teenagers being afraid to enter their schools every day. To remember Joaquin Oliver, the Frank Ocean-loving Venezuelan boy, shot and killed a year after his American citizenship was made official, Nicholas Dworet, the once University of Indianapolis-bound, seventeen-year-old swimmer, Cara Loughran, a former high school freshman and Irish dancer, is a necessity.
“I’m asking- no, demanding- that we take action now.” -Cameron Kasky
Title Credit: @RheaButcher // Twitter