I am ready to stand up. I’m ready to speak out.
By Vikki Ho Shing
It has been 3 months, since my school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, came face to face with the devastating reality of gun violence. Nestled in the corner of my Algebra II class on the second floor of the Freshman Building, I can still her the screams of the students and teachers from the floors above and below. On February 14th, I was catapulted into activism, leaving Spring Break plans behind.
I am one of millions who have joined the national debate on the assault weapons ban, prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines and closing the loopholes in background check laws that allow dangerous people who should not be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows. Today, I stand at the intersection of when a predominantly white and wealthy community faces gun violence, and when Black and Brown people are shot and killed on a daily basis.
Throughout the United States, there has been over 30 cases of shootings that have taken place since February 14th. It has been blaringly obvious that the 17 lives lost in Parkland, Florida has garnered un-president support and media attention while the shootings in and/or around inner city schools gets swept under the “gang-violence” carpet.
Recently, Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City, was strongly affected by a shooting that happened a few feet away from their school. Four students were gunned down, two died and two are recovering. The students of Miami Northwestern quickly galvanized, organized a walk-out in their school and called for gun violence to end. This was a successful student-led movement, yet it did not get the same social coverage as Marjory Stoneman Douglas received. We were eager to get in touch with them.
On Saturday, April 14th, Tyah-Amoy Roberts, Brandon Desent, Kai Koerber and I (Mei-Ling Ho-Shing) (S.T.O.R.M) met with students from Miami Northwestern Senior High School: Samuel Athelus, Ricky and Myria Pope, and Jennifer M. at the Urban League of Broward County. Actress, Jennifer Lewis order us to come close and talk to each other. We pulled our chairs together: eye to eye and knee to knee. We were able to connect and talk about the challenges of being an African American youth activist. We discussed media coverage, ignorant comments, racial profiling at school and events and exclusion from our white peers. We connected quickly!
The Miami Northwestern students were accompanied by a teacher, who was rightfully raw and emotional after losing 2 of her students to gun violence. She assured the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students that they (MNSHD) stand with us in solidarity and support and asked that we work alongside her students. We pledged our support and reassured her that our platform stands firm on “sharing the mic” with communities that are affected by gun-violence on a daily basis.
The question becomes, how do we intersect these dynamics and have real dialogue and real solutions around gun violence? There is a difference between the mass shooting at MSDHS and the gang-related shooting of an honor student in Liberty City. What is the same is the pain that is felt when we lose our loved ones senselessly and unexpectedly. Losing, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenburg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Meadow Pollack, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Carmen Schentrup, Gina Montalto, Alex Schachter, Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, Martin Duque Anguiano. Helena Ramsey, Joaquin Oliver and Cara Loughran hurts just as much as losing honor student, Ricky Dixon.
So we ask MNSH and Liberty City to meet us at the intersection of gun-violence. In
Three strategic ways:
- Framing gun violence as a public health issue, allowing for research and funding towards successful gun violence interruption programs, mental health and community services.
- Strict Gun Laws: Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, closing the loopholes in our background check laws, and offering an award for those who turn in their guns.
- Equal resources and security measures throughout ALL schools–understanding that more police in schools makes Black students less safe, not more. There’s no reason that students at MSD need social workers more than students dealing with gun violence in Miami.
In conclusion, no students should be living in fear of their safety. Teachers, staff, students, and administrators are there to better our nation’s future. Why should we go to school in fright? If a child can go to church and leave in a body bag, what world do we live in? Why should parents worry about their children’s lives, after kissing them goodbye in the morning? As a nation we need to answer these questions, and not ignore them.
I am ready to stand up. I’m ready to speak out. My generation is ready to lead and change the world, and I am asking you to stand up and fight with us.