By Chandra G. Pitts
(AllHipHop Rumors) Waking up this morning in our nation's capital... I got here late last night with a splitting headache. I've been here many times before... marching for our lives. But this time looks very different. From the moment I walked in the packed hotel lobby... Very different. I'm inspired to write. That last sentence ended long ago, several minutes at least. Not because I don't know what to say but I got stuck in the time warp. The fact that there's still so many so fiercely committed to live as three America's.
Why are you marching today? Why are you not? Is this your first student led march against gun violence that you're joining?
Be honest. I really want to know.
A February shooting in Florida in 2013... That's when I first took the opportunity to march for justice against gun violence. A mother's heart was "ripped in half" (her tearful words) at the shooting and cold blooded murder of her 17 year old son. This was a tragedy. The gunman, proudly admitted, standing there at the scene, gun in hand, was left by responding police to "go home". Not even arrested or taken in for questioning. This was the second tragedy. Then there was the acquittal. "Not guilty." One white gunman. One white judge. A unanimous vote from six white women jurors. And one innocent teenage student dead. An American child. Black. And this is where the greatest tragedy. The greatest pain. So bad, so deep, that it's almost numbing. RIP Trayvon Martin.
This is the tragedy of America.
That year, THOUSANDS of families were ripped apart, devastated and shattered by gun violence claiming the lives of hundreds of children in cities across this country. Our children. American children. That was five years ago. But the same pain of injustice is still being felt deeply today, as I prepare to leave my hotel room, walk through the packed hotel lobby and into the streets leading to the capitol in a rush of tens of thousands. Five years later, a life altering day in February. More children fall from gun violence. But this is no February 2013 or any day of gun violence after. This is not just a tragedy that rips mother's heart in half or brings a grown man to his knees in hysterical tears. It's not just one community calling for justice. These American children were white.
This - is a full blown American Tragedy.
'Time' Magazine cover worthy... Like the courageous young student activists who rose up, organized and responded with a national movement that's continued in the face of gun violence in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Wilmington, Parkland students raised their voice. And this time, America listened. Interviews on every single major talk show. Headlines in all the media outlets big and small. Schools across the country actually let students and teachers out of school to honor these 17 kids who were killed. How on earth do you think that made the other thousands feel who've had fellow classmates and community members gunned down every week in our cities? Even politicians are taking the stage to speak out, as they should have long ago! Which reminds me, I've never heard a more powerful and moving political speech in response to children dying from gun violence as when President Obama's address on Sandy Hook. I was so moved. It never occurred to me to shut it out because the shooting victims he was talking about, the tearful mothers and the painful faces of fathers in the audience were white. I cried too. My heart hurt for those children and their families.
I wanted justice.
Someone help me understand how any human woman (six at that!), man, judge, politician, talk show host, or police officer can turn their humanity off?? Devalue a human life, a child at that, simply because of the color of their skin?? Criminalize the very victims. Demoralize their families. And oppress entire races of people by stripping us of our justice. I know! I know the history of America: the indigenous land murderously overtaken at gunpoint; built on gun violence; and the stark color lines that "make America great". But I'm talking about the individual people; fellow human beings. Today. In 2018...
What if we all united beyond colorlines to demand justice for ALL??
Today no one questions the school discipline record of those killed or cares how many of those kids ever shoplifted. No one says of those victims who lost their lives, "he was no angel", "they must have done something to deserve it", they should have just been more respectful" or "I thought it was a gun". And I haven't seen a slew of counter campaigns saying "yea we know students lives matter but our lives matter too" or "what difference is a march going to make". This tragedy mobilized America.
And today we march.
After all the devastation that we've seen displayed most horrifically through gun violence in communities throughout the country, "America" is finally saying #ENOUGH. Organized by what's being called the "Women's" March, interestingly enough, youth, parents and community members in cities across America will unite in a call for justice.
I can see the capital building just outside my hotel window. Streets were blocked off already by the time I awoke. I now sit in the lobby as I finish compiling my thoughts over breakfast. The surrounding area is bustling with families, individuals of all ages, pacing restlessly with their protest signs. And across from me, chatting carelessly and laughing with a couple of the men here to march sit a small group of police officers.
I notice that they did not wear their military gear today. I pray all goes well. Today, I march for the thousands of children who have lost their lives in Wilmington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Ferguson, Chicago, Los Angeles, DC and New Jersey - cities that I've marched in, worked in, advocated in and whose pain I am personally connected with. How powerful would it be to bring all these movements for justice together? Today I march to end the gun violence in our cities. I march that we will cross color and gender lines and unite on the line of humanity. I march for justice.
Today I march for Stephon, Eric, Michael, Trayvon, Shaun, Sandra, Jeremy, Jerame, The Africa Family, Amadou, Patrick, Ousmane, Timothy, Sean, Bobby, Lamar, Que, Oscar, Aiyana, Ramarley, Rekia. We have had ENOUGH before it was a hot media commodity. And yes. We still have to say it. #BlackLivesMatter #MarchForOurLives #Enough