Missing the Point

Published 10:43 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

One thing that everyone can agree on is that the disturbing and unforgivable mass shootings that have taken the lives of innocent teachers, students and citizens is happening entirely too often.

The flag that represents the United States of America seems to be flown at half-mast more with each passing year. Each year there is a new hashtag, another candle light vigil and more thoughts and prayers than can ever be counted.

There is a disconnect between the grieving process and the action process. We mourn for the victims, and we listened to their calls for help. Yet somehow, the message that something needs to change to protect our children and public spaces keeps getting lost and fades to the background until the next blood-spilling tragedy.

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On Wednesday morning, students at several schools in Selma joined in the #ENOUGH National Walkout Day. Students in schools in Alabama and across the country walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes (in honor of the 17 victims who were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida).

The nation-wide protest was a movement to protest gun violence and call for reform to gun laws that would make our society safer.

Unfortunately, the message didn’t get to all who participated.

Several walked out of the front doors of their school jumping and smiling with no true understanding as to what they were doing. Simply excited not to be in class for the next 17 minutes.

Of the students and teachers who did recognize the importance of the walkout, their reasons for marching out differed greatly from the reasons school administrators gave for allowing them to leave their classrooms.

School administrations were adamant that they were not supporting a protest, but allowed students to leave their classrooms in an organized fashion to pay their respects to the victims of the school shootings in Florida and the recent one in Birmingham. Even though it was nice of the schools to comply with the logistics of the movement, that’s not how protests work.

The students at MSDHS in Parkland, Florida didn’t return to school for two weeks after a murderer with an AR-15 sent bullets flying through their hallways. The survivors didn’t sit still. They marched to Florida’s capitol. The children bravely faced their “representatives” and told them that gun law reform needs to happen. They returned to their classrooms knowing that they stood up for the empty desk next to them.

The kids in America are doing something amazing in this country. The kids are using their voices to let the adults know that they are hurt, they are scared and change needs to happen. These kids have been taught that it’s their First Amendment right to exercise “free speech” and “petition for a governmental redress of grievances.”

These kids are smart. Don’t tell them that they aren’t protesting. They have every right to be upset and demand change. Listen to what the kids are saying. It’s important to them, because kids these days are literally afraid to go to school.

Don’t miss the point.