We’re proud of our daughter for standing up, and walking out with her classmates this past Wednesday.
We’re proud that she didn’t hesitate to do what we’ve raised her to do: stand for a worthy cause. Stand for injustice. Stand to make a difference in this world. Stand for something that directly impacts her and the world around her.
She walked out to take a stand for a worthy cause.
We’ve listened to, and read, most of the rhetoric surrounding this event. We’ve seen the social media posts urging students to “Walk Up” as opposed to “Walk Out.” We’ve watched news reports on school systems who imposed strict truancy punishments if students decided to join their friends in protest. We even received an email from one of our school districts explaining why they’re not allowing a walk out, but offering a ‘kindness walk’ instead around the football field, and how students must remain in the building during school hours to ensure their safety.
And that’s where we stop.
Ensure their safety?
Frankly, all of my kids, from my 9 year old all the way to my 17 year old, don’t really know what safety means anymore as it relates to their school. My second grader had to walk through an “active shooter” drill recently, where he listened to his teacher explain that “If there’s a person in our building, who’s not safe and trying to hurt you, I want you to open the back door of our classroom and run and fast and as far as you can away from the school, okay?”
Are you freaking kidding me?
This is the conversation happening with our children.
This is the reality their teacher has to prep them for.
In a second grade classroom.
In all schools across this country.
This is a fear I never grew up with when I was in elementary school….or middle school….or high school. Shoot, I even attended college in the 90s, in a neighborhood on the West Side of Cincinnati with high crime, and didn’t fear like this.
But my kids are living with it every….single….day. It crosses my high schooler’s mind as much, or more, as who liked a picture on her Instagram account, or the cute boy sitting two desks in front of her, or how much her next paycheck will be so she can go shopping. This should not be. But it is.
Until our kids no longer need to live in fear, or our government passes serious, serious reform on gun laws, and our children can clearly understand the reform and see it enacted and enforced in society, they must stand….and they must walk out.
Now understand, we don’t advocate that our children, or anyone else for that matter, join a cause simply to take part in a pop culture trend, or follow the crowd. We want them to join a cause to make a difference. To change the course of history. To reverse what’s been allowed to exist for far too long. To ensure and protect the human race.
It’s the same reason we support Black Lives Matter. We cannot counter Black Lives Matter with All Lives Mater in an attempt to respond, soften the blow, or put a band-aide on a gaping wound that has existed for centuries. Do all lives matter? Yes, of course they do. But that’s easier said than proved when you look back at history, or even present day. Black Lives Matter is crucial for all races to understand and embrace because black people have had to endure centuries of abuse, segregation, and dehumanizing that white people have rarely, or never, faced. These are atrocities that cannot simply be erased or forgotten by a counter slogan like All Lives Matter. The course of history would prove this slogan false.
The same is true for countering senseless school shootings from Columbine all the way to Parkland, with Walking Up or a Kindness Walk. You simply cannot soften the blow of these tragedies by telling our children, who are living with the reality of “active shooters” walking into their school at any given moment, by telling them to walk up to a lonely kid, or be kinder, as opposed to taking action against a bigger problem. Is kindness needed? Yes. Absolutely. Should our kids “walk up” to another student who feels left out? Of course. But these are values we should be pouring into our kids throughout the year, not just in response to Walking Out. It then becomes a response not a solution to a bigger problem.
The solution is not behavior modification amongst our students. The solution is serious reform and restrictions imposed on the accessibility of weapons like those used by the Parkland shooter. The solution is protecting our babies from murder.
So we’re proud of our daughter and her classmates for standing up and walking out. They’re part of a valuable movement that is changing the course of history and putting a spotlight on a serious problem. We stand behind her and we will not silence her. They need to be heard. They need to be cheered on for taking a stand. This is a matter of life and death.