I have been alive for nearly 22 years and there are certain national tragedies that I will never ever forget.
The first was 9/11, but as terrible as that was, I didn’t understand the implications of it at 4 years old. But some part of me knew that something important was happening.
The second didn’t happen until 13 years later. It was my junior year of high school and I had a really bad day and just wanted to go home and watch Merlin on Netflix from the comfort of my bed. As the school day ended and crowds of students surged towards the buses, we started to hear murmurs of news that a shooting had happened.
Then we heard that it happened at a school.
An elementary school.
That victims were mainly children, little kids, babies really.
I didn’t comprehend what had happened until I got home. That was the first time I cried because of the deaths of strangers. My best friend and I Facetimed each other for hours because we could not understand. We were too young for Columbine or the Virginia Tech shooting. We were trying to process the mass murder of children. This was before.
My sophomore year of college nearly 50 people were gunned down in a nightclub. Mainly brown queer people. My heart ached in a particular way because I knew that if they did do anything when our children were murdered, they would not do anything when brown queer folkx were. There was no one coming to save people that looked like me.
And then last week, students live tweeted and snapchatted as a school shooter took the lives of 17 of their classmates and teachers.
After the Newtown shooting our teachers talked to us about what would happen if there was an active shooter at our school. That was the thing I was most afraid of when I was a teenager. It’s still a thing I’m scared of now. I remember that some of them said that they would try to protect us above all (because we now live in a world where the willingness to take a bullet for your students is a job requirement), others jokingly said that they would be the first ones out of here, but most said they honestly didn’t know. They would follow protocol, but protocol only goes so far and they aren’t soldiers, they’re teachers. They were just as confused and afraid as us.
I’m not afraid of Russia interfering in our “democracy” or a brown man with a bomb or North Korea blowing us to smithereens. I’m afraid of an angry white man with access to an assault rifle deciding that my class, the movie theater I’m in, the mall I’m walking around in, is a good target.