The New Breed: Voices from the March for Our Lives

March 27th, 2018 - by admin

Alison Letterman & Emma Gonzales et al. – 2018-03-27 00:33:20

The New Breed
By Alison Luterman

— for Emma Gonzalez and the other student activists

I see her on TV, screaming into a microphone.
Her head is shaved and she is beautiful
and seventeen, and her high school was just shot up,
she’s had to walk by friends lying in their own blood,
her teacher bleeding out,
and she’s my daughter, the one I never had,
and she’s your daughter and everyone’s daughter
and she’s her own woman, in the fullness of her young fire,
calling bullshit on politicians who take money from the gun-makers.
Tears rain down her face but she doesn’t stop shouting
she doesn’t apologize she keeps calling them out,
all of them all of us
who didn’t do enough to stop this thing.
And you can see the gray faces of those who have always held power
contort, utterly baffled
to face this new breed of young woman,
not silky, not compliant,
not caring if they call her a ten or a troll.
And she cries but she doesn’t stop
yelling truth into the microphone,
though her voice is raw and shaking
and the Florida sun is molten brass.
I’m three thousand miles away, thinking how
Neruda said The blood of the children
ran through the streets
without fuss, like children’s blood.
Only now she is, they are
raising a fuss, shouting down the walls of Jericho,
and it’s not that we road-weary elders
have been given the all-clear exactly,
but our shoulders do let down a little,
we breathe from a deeper place,
we say to each other,
Well, it looks like the baton
may be passing
to these next runners and they are
fleet as thought,
fiery as stars,
and we take another breath
and say to each other, The baton
has been passed, and we set off then
running hard behind them.

“I have a dream that enough is enough.”
Yolanda Renee King, 9, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., made an appearance with her own dream at the rally.

“I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said, “and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.” She then led the crowd in a cheer: “We are going to be a great generation.”

“Today is the March for Our Lives,
but it’s also the birthday of Nick Dworet.”

One of the survivors of the Parkland shooting went on stage to sing “Happy Birthday” for her deceased friend, Nicholas Dworet, who would have turned 18 on Saturday.

“It is also the birthday of Nick Dworet. Somebody who was senselessly murdered in front of me,” said 18-year-old Samantha Fuentes, who was shot by the gunman Feb. 14. Dworet was a senior at Stoneman Douglas and a competitive swimmer at the high school. He was planning to attend the University of Indianapolis on an athletic scholarship.

Fuentes asked the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” for her friend, and they did.

“I have been personally affected by the lack of gun control”
Mya Middleton, a 16-year-old student from Chicago, spoke about her own harrowing experience with gun violence. When she was a freshman in high school, Middleton went to pick up some items from the store when an agitated customer began grabbing items and causing a commotion.

“When he finally turns to me, he comes toward me, and I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think,” she recalled.

“He pulls out this silver pistol and points it in my face and said these words that to this day haunt me and give me nightmares. He said, ‘If you say anything, I will find you.’ And yet I’m still saying something today.”

“Guns have long scared our children,” she said. “Join me in sharing my pain and my anger.”

“I learned how to duck from bullets
before I learned how to read.”

Edna Chavez, 17, from south Los Angeles, lost her brother in a shooting. “Ricardo was his name. Can y’all say it with me?” she asked the crowd.

The protesters began chanting “Ricardo! Ricardo!” as tears began to stream down Chavez’s face.

“This is normal. Normal to the point where I’ve learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read,” she said. “My brother was in high school when he passed away. It was a day like any other day. Sunset going down on South Central. You hear pops thinking they’re fireworks. They weren’t pops. You see the melanin in your brother’s skin turn gray.”

“This march is not the climax. It’s the beginning.”

“Welcome to the revolution,” said Cameron Kasky. One the most visible of the Parkland students, Kasky urged young people to use their voices to “create a better world for generations to come.”

“Politicians, either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware: The voters are coming,” Kasky said. “We must stand beside those we’ve lost and fix the world that betrayed them. . . . We the people can fix this. For the first time in a long while, I look forward and see hope.”

“The march is not the climax of this movement. It’s the beginning,” he said.

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