Why This Walkout Matters

Why This Walkout Matters

A conversation has begun - and it is about more than just gun control.
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Today, Wednesday, March 14th, 2018, at 10:00 a.m., a nation of students walked out of their classes and out of their schools, intending to protest the insecurity across the country as school shooting after school shooting claims the lives of their innocent victims. Thousands participated everywhere from New York to Washington and, yes, even here in the south.

I cried real tears today when I saw the stream of people walking on to the field. For weeks we orchestrated and compromised with county and school administration to be able to have this event, to speak up and have our voices join the chorus of our generation as it yelled its frustration this morning. The county school system had finally changed its view on the protest and allowed it to occur penalty-free and, so, here we were. Here was a solid percentage of my school on the field, standing in the freezing, windy cold morning, huddled in solidarity together. The tears budded in my eyes as I recorded a video for Snapchat, and they fell as the chorus began singing a song of peace, hope and remembrance for those lost in the Stoneman Douglas massacre, many of whom had friends at Johns Creek.

Because this was more than just twenty minutes without class or a project blossoming. This was more than just seeing people agreeing with you or supporting you, and this was more than just a gathering of people. This was the mobilization of a generation, the call from more than just the politically extreme members for the government to do something! Please! Today, I watched my peers risk zeros on minor assessments and social alienation to freeze in the stadium for seventeen minutes because this was finally something that they cared about. Now, they will raise their voices. Now, finally, they understand that the current complacency is helping the system to fail them - fail us - as students.

I listened to radio shows and read plenty of Facebook articles in anticipation of this event, interested in seeing how the nation would react. Many parents expressed their support; universities promised not to consider a disciplinary action against applicants or future students if it came as a result of this demonstration of the first amendment; friends encouraged other friends to participate. Many teachers, even if inherently against the ideas being advocated for, presented the walkout as a teaching moment, a chance to see the First Amendment or even Tinker v. Des Moines in practice, and administrations across the country placed parameters around yet permitted this expressive action.

Yet many did not. And their criticisms, overwhelmingly, were that this walkout did not accomplish anything concrete. Did not do anything. Resolve anything.

But is it true that this protest could have meant nothing? To believe so is to be naive and clueless. For many high school students, this was the first time that they had raised their voice to be a political participant - a trait essential to maintaining democracy - and the walkout provided a peer-supported, organized, peaceful outlet of doing so. Perhaps this could spark a life of political activism or, at the very least, awareness; I sincerely hope so.

And, of course, more than even the lessons taught to the students, the empowerment and the involvement that they saw, there is the clear message to the outside. The message that hopes and prayers have a place, but action to save our students has a larger place. That it is not a regional fight anymore than it is racially biased or gender-swayed. Most importantly, that our generation works together. Politicians are public servants and put there to serve and honor the collective desires, requests and attitudes of their constituents, and the generation that walked out today is either barely of voting age or about to be. And, as we saw today, they are ready to stand up for how they feel, especially on an issue that could quite literally be life or death to them.

Be prepared. For every criticism of my generation as "lazy", "self-absorbed", "globally apathetic", "personally unaware because of the time spent on social media" or "entitled and expectant of hand-outs without work", today provided a counter. Today, we stood up and made a nationwide shout for change, a shout for security and protection and control of those forces that would cause us harm. Today, we contributed to the democratic spirit of America and voiced our opinions on issues that we were informed about, aware of and very much passionate about. And it won't end here - students will register to vote. They will write their Congressmen and sign petitions and text RESIST to 50409.

This is the beginning of a conversation. But this conversation is more than just gun control or school safety. It is now about the future of our country - and my generation is perfectly prepared to take up the torch.

I am excited for the future.

Cover Image Credit: Ryo Sato

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

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There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

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If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

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Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.

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I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

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Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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