The Girls!

Gabrielle Begun

We Are HereSan Francisco, CAPhotos by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Gabrielle Begun

I’m no politician. I don’t usually follow the news. But today, during our student/teacher led assembly, where we were supposed to discuss something that had happened a week ago, I got up along with 400 students and walked outside to have 17 minutes of silence for those who lost their lives in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, followed by an emotional, empowering, and important student-led demonstration.

The day that the shooting happened, I didn’t have school, so I stumbled upon it while on Instagram. It was a disturbing video of teenagers running for their lives with their hands up in the air with the headline “School Shooting in Florida”. You want to know the first thing I felt? Absolutely nothing. It was at that moment that I realized that I had become so normalized with mass shootings and death in the U.S that I kept scrolling, and that scared me so much.

I felt nothing until one of my friends posted the video on her Instagram, and I suddenly woke up. I woke up to the videos of high schoolers crying in interviews because their friend had just been mercilessly murdered. I woke up to the screams and yells of kids my age, making it clear that it was far too late, and that something had to be done about guns in the US.

And when my brother came home from school that day,  I hugged him as I normally would, but a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach haunted me until this moment.

 

It could have happened at his school.

 

It could have happened at my school.

 

I read more about the Florida shooting, and I no longer felt nothing. Finally, something inside me had said “this is not okay” to the mass shootings happening in my own country. The more I saw, the more I began to feel scared and enraged. The fact that the congressional lawmakers’ ignorance had come this far; to the point where the kids that could have one day taken over their position in that giant house representing our country, had died because some politicians and organizations were too scared of harming their ties to the NRA. High school kids died because these organizations care more about their profits than the lives of the people in their country!

 I’m a freshman, what do I know? Well, I was the first freshman to go in front of my fellow students and let my voice be heard. I got emotional and I began to cry.  But with all that vulnerability, I discovered hope.

 I should not be worrying whether my brother is safe or whether my friends are safe or whether I am safe or whether the people that I see every day are safe. I should not be standing in front of 400 people, crying for the government to take away assault/ semi-automatic rifles and to make change!

 

But there I was.

 

And it was so damn ridiculous but so damn empowering that kids I knew were breaking down in front of me, absolutely fed up with the state of this country. But through tragedy, our voices are heard. Voices like those of the teenagers that spoke at rallies and official CNN

events, or Emma Gonzàlez. Her downright historical speech said everything that I am still saying today. When is everyone going to WAKE UP, stop regarding us as adolescents who don’t know what they are talking about, and listen to us? I refuse to accept their silence! I refuse to be silenced!

The uproar of change that is happening now should have started after the first school shooting. A lot of things should have started after the first shooting. Parkland just finally woke us up.

Today is the day that teenagers are finally being heard. We are going to scream and yell and shout and cry, like the Whos in Horton Hears a Who, until everyone opens their eyes and sees us for who we are. When all of us come together and put aside the things that make us different, those who refuse to hear us won’t be able to ignore the incredible sound we make.

So keep the conversation going at your school. Organize walk-ins and walkouts. Make sure that your community is safe in this horrible situation. Follow March For Our Lives. Send letters to Congresspeople. Take action, use your voice, because right now, this country needs it.

We are here, and though I’m no politician, it should not be this easy to get your hands on a gun. It should not be that easy to kill so many people. We have a voice! Right now, our voices are important and it is important for us to use them the best we can! We are mad, we are tired, we are fed up, but we are finally awake.

 

WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE!

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