Essay / March/April 2018 / Margot Nelson

Kids are Leading the Revolution, so Get Ready

Written by Margot Nelson

The revolution is brewing, and it’s being stirred by teenagers all around the country. The kids who have spent their whole lives being called “lazy” and “entitled” by the media have grown up, and they’re angry.

They’re angry because since the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there have been 13 more instances of guns going off in schools, intentionally and otherwise. They’re angry because every day, there are hundreds of kids around the country every day who suffer the effects of gun violence and don’t get media coverage. They’re angry because the politicians of this country have been bought by the National Rifle Association. They’re angry because they haven’t even taken their AP exams yet and they’re doing more work to change the laws than the politicians who allegedly represent them. They’re angry because on February 14th, 17 of their classmates went to school and never went home.

The survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting have become major gun-law activists since the day of the shooting. They are running the social media movement #NEVERAGAIN to raise awareness and gain traction for constructive change in legislation. They even coordinated a national school walk-out on March 14th, one month after the shooting, and the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24th as a chance for people to show their support and demonstrate that this time, they won’t accept “thoughts and prayers” as a solution to a deadly problem.

In the face of the tremendous backlash they have received from the NRA and its supporters, these students are taking people down as swiftly as you would expect from high schoolers on Twitter. They are fighting accusations of crisis actors and conspiracies by posting video footage and first-hand accounts of the tragedy, and they have been speaking to television networks, reporters, and politicians day in and day out for the last month.

The Parkland kids have also been bent on making the fight against gun violence an inclusive one, especially by acknowledging their privilege in the media presence they’ve garnered and extending it to the many groups of students of color around the country who have been lobbying for stricter gun laws for years without nearly the same amount of national attention.

The students from Stoneman Douglas met with a group of students of color from Chicago who suffer the effects of gun violence in their neighborhoods on a regular basis. They exchanged experiences and talked about how to create effective and rapid change, not only for school safety but for everywhere else as well. These aren’t just teenagers sitting around vaguely discussing politics before moving onto the next subject. These students—and all the other young leaders who haven’t been in the spotlight—are actively working for a desperately needed change in legislation and national attitude towards guns and gun ownership. They are having the difficult conversations that are being avoided by adults in power.

Our generation has been put down and treated as though we are nothing but self-absorbed, tech-obsessed brats who don’t know anything that’s going on in the world. But while the media was busy asking us if we were #TeamPeeta or #TeamGale, we actually read The Hunger Games and understood that it takes determined kids to change a fucked-up system. While the entertainment industry was slow to realize that having empowered female characters was probably a good idea, we were becoming the empowered women they lacked. When a greasy, orange sexual predator was elected president, we marched. And now that yet another civilian has used his right to bear arms to kill 17 more kids, this generation is rallying and bringing the conversation to the forefront.

Change is happening and it’s coming from survivors of gun violence across the country. It’s coming from kids in their parents’ living room who are taking matters into their own hands and who will not let people forget what happened on February 14th, 2018 until something is done to prevent it from ever happening again.

So register to vote. Make your voice heard. The March for Our Lives may be over, but the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas as well as all the other student leaders across the country are continuing the fight. If you want to learn more about the platform the students are pushing, this article is a good place to start. The Parkland students are also rallying to launch some town halls with their state representatives on April 7th.

The revolution is being run by kids and for the first time, it feels like change is coming.

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