Enemy of the American People?

The enemy of the American people is not the journalist with a political stance, but it is the President with a tyrannical denial of the First Amendment.

Disallowing news outlets to be at a press conference because they have published the occasional biased article demonstrates irresponsibility. It backpedals in the face of progress and worsens the prospects of fair journalism.

CNN has published biased articles about Donald Trump, as has Fox News. CNN is not the golden standard of journalism, but Fox News, who has been left out of this narrative, is not either. I do not trust CNN or Fox’s polls, because they both have distinct audiences that will skew the accuracy of the poll. CNN and Fox both selectively report, and after following them on Twitter, the reporting gap became apparent. I unfollowed both.

I will not, however, call either of the news outlets “fake news.” The reporting that CNN and Fox do, while opinionated, is not entirely inaccurate. While the news organizations are editorializing, they are not lying. A tangible, real piece of fake news would be the Sweden terror attacks. It is interesting how our President wants to wage a war on “fake news,” but somehow facts tend to evade him.

If Donald Trump is going to criticize the media, he must critique bias on both sides of the political spectrum. He is not doing the news media any favors by only allowing right-wing organizations to report on him. Politico fact-checks. It is dangerous to call them liars.

That being said, I see the act of barring certain news organizations from a press conference as a clear attack on the free press, and therefore a clear attack on the First Amendment. It sends a hostile message to reporters, who have already been rejected and undermined in this presidency. I do not see the ban as “cutting through the media’s noise.” I do not see scapegoating journalists, calling them “enemies of the American people,” as a viable way to fix biased news articles. I am aware that the news media needs to have clearer, fairer, and more in-depth reporting, but I am also aware that pointing fingers exacerbates a problem. I am also aware that alternative facts are worse than opinionated news.

As an aspiring journalist, it saddens me to see the world of free press that I love so much be threatened. The press is a check to the state’s power.

The media needs reform, but if it weren’t for journalists, there wouldn’t be Watergate. If it weren’t for journalists, nobody would expose corruption. Corruption can be amended, but tyranny must be toppled. My only evidence for that is history.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.” My opening statement stands.

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No Education Without Representation

The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act is a California law that requires public schools to teach history and social science curriculum that includes LGBT+ and disabled individuals. It was no question as to whether or not my local school board would implement it, but the attitudes of certain members disappointed me.

I am disappointed in our school board trustee Mike Dunn, who claimed that our community “does not want homosexuality, bisexual and transgender taught to seven-year-old children.” The FAIR Act does not include the specifics of someone’s sexuality, it simply calls for historical accuracy.

I am disappointed to know that individuals that make decisions on mine and my peers’ behalf do not support our entire community.

As an elected official, it is your job to put the duties of the whole community above any religious conviction. Putting religious goals above Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Representative Education is irresponsible and violates separation between church and state. Dear Mr. Dunn, if “where (you) spend eternity if far more important to (you) than being a school board trustee,” then resign. You asked a local mother if she was “advocating for a dictatorship,” but your form of government is not suitable either. God did not write the Constitution.

Does the school board really consist of representatives, if the represented body is silenced? Our school board members are democratically elected into office, yet the student has no say in the matter.

My solution to these issues is simple: let the students vote. If any concerned parent is worried about the levels of maturity, let it be upperclassmen.

Let us have a say, alongside our parents and teachers, in the people we elect to make decisions on our behalf. It is our learning environment, our curriculum, and our campuses. As much as parents love to preach, “leave it to the families,” the time will come when we must leave the home. We should have the skills necessary to accurately understand the world without the guidance of a parent.

Enough of electing officials who adamantly oppose my school newspaper for publishing articles that they don’t like. I want to stress that the audience of a school publication is not parents.

Enough of electing officials who are not in line with the values of the student body. We are the reason why Conejo Valley Unified School District exists, so I strongly urge our trustees to keep that in mind moving forward. Democracy, not theocracy.

 

What Princess Leia Can Teach Us about Representation

I was a girl shrouded in femininity from the moment I was born. Pink blankets and pink sippy cups turned into Barbies and pink dresses, while I rejected my brothers’ Hot Wheels and Legos as mere “boy toys.”

But this separation changed once Star Wars came into the picture (and Pokémon, but we can get into that another day). Princess Leia became the bridge between what I called “girl things” and “boy things,” and Star Wars was my first glimpse into what would later lead me into an entire genre of female action heroes (and then my vehement rejection of gendering anything).

I’m not going to put down Barbie, but Princess Leia is an icon who de-shrouds the femininity complex. She is a feminine character placed in an otherwise masculine franchise, and she deconstructs the typical “damsel in distress” type of heroine. She takes down fascist regimes and chokes her captor to death with the chains he held her in (don’t worry, Carrie Fisher, all of us feminists hated the bikini outfit, too).

Leia helps destroy the Empire and a different kind of oppressive hold: gender roles within movie genres. Star Wars is not a franchise that sells Christmas toys only to grandsons, as it is not a franchise that can be marketed solely to boys or  girls. I understand that often times companies will try to sell their product to a demographic of people, but when we market items to strictly men or women, we confine ourselves. We force people into a box that they will either reject or forever be trapped in.

The words feminine and masculine already have connotations associated with them, and we have to dismantle their grip on people because they dichotomize and further divide us. Princesses don’t have to wait for princes to save them, and princes don’t have to always save a princess. Turns out, the prince and the princess are not so different.

So yes, representation matters. You’ve probably heard that a million times on social media, but its message is one worth listening to. Whether it be Leia, Rey, Finn, or Poe, Star Wars doesn’t discriminate, and neither should the rest of our media.

(Marvel, we know you have Black Widow, but you’ve got a long way to go with this one).

As much as I am mourning Carrie Fisher’s recent passing, I do not want her legacy to end. Fisher not only brought us Leia, but she was a voice for people with bipolar and those who struggle with substance abuse. I wish Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were still with us, but I would rather celebrate what they brought to us during their lifetimes than mourn. I would rather say thank you, and continue to fight for Fisher’s message that gives us hope.

 

My Second Attempt to Call Out A Republican

As if my month couldn’t get any worse, Trump picked Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Not only does this woman only put money towards private and religious schools, but despite her complete lack of experience, apparently is adamantly against public education, calling it a “government-run monopoly.” DeVos also has no experience in higher education either, so for all you Bernie millennials and scared high school students- this sucks.

She advocates for school choice, which basically means, “I want my kids to go to a school that will put forth my personal beliefs, and will keep them as close-minded as I am.” Private education is fine and dandy, but when you want your schools to teach factually incorrect data so that you feel comfortable on Sunday morning, then we have a problem.

DeVos believes in creationism, an outdated, scientifically incorrect idea that claims the world is only a couple thousand years old, and humans popped outta nowhere because God said so. Virtually nothing backs creationism other than a singular book.

Creationism is not how the world came to be, and it is not how we came to be. I personally do not say so, but experts do. You can fight me on this all you want, say “it’s my belief!” and tell me I’m going to hell, but I’m using this to convey a larger idea here.

We should be teaching our children undisputed truth, not our personal agenda.

Religious freedom does not mean religious dominance, meaning we are free to worship (or not), but that does not mean we must shy away from all other belief systems. Separation of church and state is something most Americans forget, but once we forget it, we’ve thrown our government into the hands of extremists who remind us of an age-old Europe in which countless people killed each other over wine.

When we have a poorly educated populace, we have a narrow worldly perspective. We have communities and organizations who legitimately believe that birth control is abortion. These people vote, and their elected officials pick Betsy DeVos to continue the vicious cycle. Evangelical Christians, which make up the majority of homeschooled Americans, also make up a third of Americans without a high school education. Their textbooks tell them that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, and that evolutionary theories are lying to us (they mostly voted for Trump, an avid climate denier).

Education is the key to a successful society, so why are we clogging it with false assertions and dangerous claims, including the Southern tendency to call the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression,” and the denial of slavery? Why are we implementing abstinence-only sex education programs that statistically do not work? If we do not teach our students the truth, and nothing but the truth, then we lead our country into an era where women might not have healthcare, our ecosystems might be destroyed, and civil rights might be, once again, completely violated.

Ignorance is the root of every problem, and the solutions lie in education. It is shocking to me how people can access so much information, but they choose not to because they want to fulfill a hierarchal, narrow worldview.

DeVos might be against basic human rights and evolution, but that will not stop activists and scientists alike from preaching the truth. Whether you get your truth from a single book or years of research, evidence, and study is up to you, but don’t put blind faith in something that’s going to kill the Great Barrier Reef. I do not care if factual data makes you uncomfortable, because if you are uncomfortable then you are learning.

The State of Journalism

By the time you read this, you will probably already know the results of the 2016 election (if you don’t yet: oh boy the stress!). It was without a doubt historic, but also pretty gruesome in terms of the way we had to witness it. If you scroll down any further in this blog, you’ll soon discover how I feel about Mr. Trump.

I’m not sure if this election left the journalism world in shambles or if the journalism world left the election in shambles. We’re at the breaking point where I’m not even sure what is “real” news anymore, and what an editor chose to show me to convince me of some ideology.

I am still quick to defend journalists. They are the backbone of this society in that they are the ones who project ideas and stories to anyone who chooses to pay attention. You would not be the person you are today without reading some sort of moving story, and you are never going to shy away from hearing the latest bit of news. Why? Because we’re naturally curious people, and journalism is this beautiful, instant way for us to satisfy our thirst for knowledge. Historically, journalists have always been under fire: arrested, tortured, killed, exiled, etc., all for expressing their opinions, or exposing harmful governmental practices.

There’s also something both equally terrifying and fascinating about journalism in that it controls everything we think, and I don’t mean this in an illuminati conspirator way. I mean that when we share our opinions, like how I share with this blog, we convince others to agree with us and we convince others to change our society. Every revolution started with a pen.

But within journalism, I like to divide it into two types of writing: informative and persuasive. Informative is what you see on CNN; the stories and happenings around the world. Its purpose is to simply tell a story and inform people of a person or an event, and it does not include an opinion.

Then we get into the persuasive, which includes this blog and the editorial/opinion section of any newspaper. This is the place where we are allowed to get as rowdy, as biased, and as convincing as we want. The only thing that separates good opinion writing and bad opinion writing is how much of the argument holds true. But we don’t really care about the truth as much as we care about our ideology.

The problem rises when these two genres blend. With this election especially, they are blending more than ever. Even CNN is guilty of the blend.

And I get it. It’s hard not to ideologically align yourself with a particular candidate. Are you a sexist white nationalist, or have no other choice but to pretend Benghazi didn’t happen? The divisiveness is strong, yet not shocking. We had a Civil War.

As journalists, we have the power to completely convince a nation who its next leader will be, but we have to exercise that power with responsibility. We can’t tangle our nonpartisan news with our partisan beliefs, because then we distort the truth (not that Americans care). We can persuade, but we must do so after we inform. We have to turn to the news, and then to the opinion.

The reason that the journalism world has issues is because of these new developments, like Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Journalists are not really sure what to do with this drastic change, and you can see this when you compare the 2008 election to the 2016 one, and its social media presence. Stories come out so fast that news outlets frantically tweet away, without stopping to be 100% sure the story is accurate. They’re not sure how to make money because everything is online, and everything is about appealing to a particular audience, not necessarily “good,” true stories. The ways in which we consume media are changing, and it’s up to us to help them mature and to end the news-story partisanship.

So journalists are not all corrupt conspirators or create a terrible, evil presence that promotes “the liberal agenda” (alternatively known as the gay agenda, to put a homophobic spin on things), and no, we should not hang journalists, as this lovely Trump supporter suggests. Trump’s comments about the media are hypocritical in that the media brought him to the election, and the media made him money before he even decided to run. Journalists practically gave birth to Trump, and when they punish him for his rebellious teen behavior, he blames them for raising him, like any other immature punk would do. Even so, Donald Trump is nothing without journalism.

But before future generations fix the ideological swing, there’s ways we can hear both sides of an argument. Look at a liberal news source, a conservative news source, and a reputable, nonpartisan fact-checking site (politifact.com is a good one). And have a little bit more respect for us journalists. Your country and your candidate wouldn’t exist without us.

Why The “Make America Great Again” Rhetoric is Dangerous

First of all, I am in no way pledging my full and utter support to Hillary Clinton.

I know what Clinton is capable of. She deceives people and I know about the emails.

But I am not discussing Hillary Clinton today. I am, however, discussing her opposing candidate and his relationship to the American public.

Americans are reminiscent. We look back on our childhoods and see them as “better times,” as a way to deal with the problems we face at present. We become increasingly aware of the conflicts our world faces, but with the exception of problems introduced by climate change or new technology, nothing is horribly different, including polarizing elections.

Yet, we still idolize the past so much to the point where I, a young woman, once wished I could witness the Revolutionary War (where instead of fighting for liberty like I once dreamed, I’d actually be sitting at home, watching my fourth infant die).

We forget the racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia that plagued (and still plagues) our society. We forget the shadow of discrimination and oppression, and we forget the unkind memories of gender roles and separate drinking fountains with the passing of an amendment.

Prejudice does not go away because we write on paper that it’s terrible. If you want proof, check Twitter (example: @realDonaldTrump).

So dear Trump supporters: “Corrupt” politicians are not limited to the Clintons. John F. Kennedy lied about his medical issues, Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized Japanese internment camps, Andrew Jackson is responsible for forced removal and deaths of countless Native Americans, Nixon had his Watergate scandal… shall I go on? If you want to talk about emails, take a look at Bush’s 2 million. “Corruptness” does not discriminate against either party, and Trump himself is no angel. Don’t excuse those tapes, because he is bragging about sexual assault. The allegations may or may not be true, but it does not matter. People agree with his, frankly, disgusting comments.

“Make America Great Again” is suggesting that somehow America was really once a place where we stood by our values of freedom and equality. But we had slavery. Then we went to war over it. Then we had racism, and even though we stopped putting “colored” signs on the door, we still have racism.

We have a black president, marriage equality, increasingly diverse workspaces, and this makes people angry because they’re not used to it. They grew up learning and seeing that the only people qualified to be in positions of power were white men, and the change angers and confuses them (Note: this is not to say that white men are not qualified to be in positions of power, but it means that people of other demographics are equally qualified).

The Americans who say that “things were better back then” are the ones who never had to face the oppression old America brought (or they are oblivious to it), and never had to fight against it now. And you can’t excuse bigoted ideas with “it was just the time period!” because that undermines how oppressive and harmful those ideas were. And yes I’d love to see the Beatles in concert as much as any of you. But I want wage equality more.

What Donald Trump is insinuating is that he wants to bring back old power structures, because he doesn’t like the way the world is changing. He sees women as objects, he believes that Mexicans are rapists, and he thinks that peaceful black protestors should be carried out on a stretcher. Why? Because that’s how old America sees them. Whether he openly admits it or not, based on his rhetoric, he does not want to see minority groups with power. His supporters, who continually advocate for violence, reflect this (a notable supporter of his is former KKK leader David Duke).

The actual policies and viewpoints he has outside of his loud, offensive arguing are irrelevant when you consider the ideology he represents. Global figures become noteworthy when they inspire, and so far, Donald Trump has inspired hate crimes. And I haven’t even begun to talk about his policies, let alone his homophobic running mate Mike Pence, or “extreme vetting.” This blog post is getting too long for me to list my grievances against Trump himself.

We can’t “Make America Great Again” because America was never too great in the first place. We can’t “Make America Great Again” because if we go back even further than 2015, same sex couples couldn’t legally marry in all 50 states. Women started to vote in 1920, and almost one hundred years later, a woman is now a presidential candidate. That’s not her only running point, and gender does not determine a strong or a weak candidate, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Why would we want to go back? Why would we want to romanticize the past? Why would I want to live in a time period where I could only be a homemaker? Why would I want to be denied a voice? Yet, Trump supporters start a hashtag called #repealthe19th. It would be funny, except that people are serious about it. Therefore, it is terrifying.

And I say this as someone who is eternally grateful to live here in this beautiful country, where I am free to write “America was never great” without the government executing me for treason. I understand my privileges and rights, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight to make them better. And I will never stop fighting.

We’ve come so far that we can’t go back. Don’t make America great again. Push it forward into a different, better kind of greatness.

~

(A final note: Donald Trump is an emotionally unstable, spoiled man who claims any event he loses is “rigged,” and will not consider outside opinions from experts, meaning he could potentially “bomb the s–t” out of any country that provokes him. And there will be provocations. It is a president’s job to be temper and clear-minded in the face of adversity, and Donald Trump is neither of those things. To be a leader of a republican society you must compromise, not dictate. Please vote on November 8th, and make the right decision).

When You Cover My Shoulders, You Cover My Mouth

American public school: listen up. You try to make your school environment a more accepting place for students of all walks of life, but you’re getting really hypocritical with this dress code talk.

I will not be mindful of the Four B’s (Breasts, Back, Butt, and Belly) because you shouldn’t be looking for those Four B’s anyway. How about my grades instead? Can you focus on that? Help me get into college, not dictate what goes into my closet.

If you’re concerned about “distraction,” it’s more distracting to disrupt a girl’s school day to make her change. Cutting into a girl’s class time because of what she’s wearing is telling her that her appearance is more important than her education. We don’t teach girls to be comfortable in their own skin; we force them to put on a bright orange T-shirt that says, “I will dress better tomorrow.”

The real “distraction” is the dread that I and every short-shorts wearing person feel every time the weather stoops above a comfortable 70 degrees: will I be shamed for my shorts today? Will I get yelled at for exposing my skin? But I’m going to wear those short-shorts anyway, because I have the right to wear what I want and it is 100+ degrees outside.

And where do curvy girls and big-breasted girls fit into this? Most articles of clothing will reveal their curves because that’s just how bodies look. Girls who develop at a young age don’t deserve to be unfairly targeted by a dress code that turns eleven year olds into fully grown women and disgraces them for owning a bigger body.

Bodies are skinny and fat and there is nothing we can do to change it. We have boobs, we have backs, we have butts, and we have bellies. Girls who show their skin aren’t “sluts,” and girls who cover their skin aren’t “prudes.” Stop defining and controlling women by what they wear. Our words and our actions are more important.

Stop telling girls that they are responsible for their objectification. If you want to eliminate “distraction” in a classroom, teach boys to respect girls, and reprimand them for any sort of harassment that girls receive.

Cut the “she was showing her bra strap!” crap (of course you will see my bra strap. I own bras. It is not my job to keep them mysterious and hidden from the entire world).

When we blame girls for male attention, we’re essentially blaming a dead bird after a dog brings it inside. The dog gets to sit outside, not the bird. So why don’t we teach boys not to see girls as sexual objects?

My shoulders are not sexual. My legs are not sexual. I am a human being, and I demand the that people respect my body as it is. If it is hot outside, I will not cover up because others will see my body as “distracting.” If my clothes bother you, look the other way.

 

P.S. Check this out for more! I really liked it!

 

He Can Sit: It’s Not Worth Burning a Jersey Over

Last week, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem in protest. This, naturally, sparked outrage within America, 49ers fans responding by literally burning his jersey.

Kaepernick explained the reasoning behind the protest, saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” And of course, people gave him the old, “it could be worse!” excuse. I mean, check out this girl completely lose her mind.

I’m a white girl, so I normally feel uneasy writing about race, because racism simply does not apply to me. I have white privilege. I cannot speak over the voices that racism affects.

Yet, you’ve gotta be kidding me, white people. Agree with Colin Kaepernick or not, he is allowed to protest. He shouldn’t be kicked off the team, he isn’t a disgrace to our country and no, Donald Trump, he shouldn’t leave.

I agree with #BlackLivesMatter. You can make millions and still be racially profiled on the street. You can make millions and still get shot because some white guy thought you were a menace to society. But if you don’t agree with the movement, you still cannot criticize Kaepernick’s physical act of protest. Why? Because it is the most American thing any of us can do.

Our country was one built on protest. To say Kaepernick’s act of defiance is un-American is to say, “how dare the Boston Tea Party happen! How dare these people not blindly submit to their country and its teachings!”

Women can vote because of protest. They used to be arrested and scoffed on the streets, because they wanted to vote.

Black and white people can drink out of the same drinking fountains because of protest. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech would not have been possible, had it not been for protest.

People seeking change will always be met with the most hatred. Historically, they have been killed, inquired, killed again, publicly ridiculed, assassinated (oh wait, that’s the same as ‘killed’), and met with hate speech on Twitter. Activists walk a weathered path, especially ones in the spotlight. And yes, Tomi Lahren, you have the right to call Colin Kaepernick a crybaby, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that you think his anger is somehow unjustified. Do not burn his jersey and call him un-American, because your founding fathers owned slaves.

The right to protest is the most American ideal worth holding onto. We are a country because of resistance, and Locke’s philosophy of rising up against oppressive government. If Colin Kaepernick believes that black people are not being treated equally to their fellow white citizens, then he is allowed to sit down and tell us so. So put down your matches, put down your hatred, and just listen. I, a white person, should not have to raise Colin’s voice for him.

Who Are You Gonna Call??

GHOSTBUSTERS.

(Sing it. You know you want to).

The movie was spectacular. Despite critics, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and yes, Chris Hemsworth, were all amazing and I want to hug them all.

This Ghostbusters reboot features paranormal researchers Abby Yates (McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Wiig) as they team up with engineer Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) and New Yorker Patty Tolan (Jones). They include throwbacks to original movie, with little references slipped in here and there, but it’s a completely different story altogether. It’s definitely a modern take on the classic ghost hunting story.

A lot of critics are opposed to reboots. “Leave ’em as they are!” they scream. And yeah. Some reboots don’t go too well. Look at Teen Titans.

The point is, the reason these critics are so upset about Ghostbusters boils down to one thing: sexism. Before you cringe and click out of this article, thinking, “oh boy. The feminists are at it again!” Here me out.

The new Ghostbusters movie is good. It has action, humor, and a compelling story. The protagonists are underdogs, and you want to root for them. Sure, it’s not the 1984 movie, but it’s good in a different way. It’s reinventing the characters; a creative process not uncommon to comic book universes and manga-to-anime adaptations. Three different people played Spiderman in three different cinematic universes. There are four Green Lanterns. Pokémon remakes are the best games ever.

Except this time, the reinvention involves women. Women who are not love interests, women who are more than one body type, and women who are smart and powerful. Women who don’t wait for her male counterpart to save her. Women who have insecurities and flaws. Women who are not judged by what they look like, but by how they behave. The Ghostbusters movie treats women like people.

As a girl who grew up surrounded by Gwen Stacys and Snow Whites (not that there’s anything wrong with those characters), it is so satisfying to look at a group of girl action heroes. And yes we have Katniss and Rey. But they are stand alone characters. The Ghostbusters are a team.

And here we are. In 2016. Leslie Jones deletes her Twitter account because everyday people greet her with racist and sexist tweets. Countless people smash this movie; they don’t give it a chance. The toys are in the clearance section.

Then Leslie Jones comes back to Twitter, and Twitter deletes her biggest trolls. The movie starts to get good reviews. Kids are buying the toys.

So go on. Hate the new Ghostbusters movie. Say that you don’t think women should be the Ghostbusters, because it’s not their place. Say that women don’t deserve an action movie where they aren’t sexualized, where they don’t have to be in love with men (or anyone for that matter), and where they show the world that they too, can save the world by themselves.

But make up an excuse. Say it’s only because you hate reboots, and then go watch Suicide Squad, because they totally didn’t reinvent the Joker so that Jared Leto could play him.

So when there’s something strange in the neighborhood, who will I be calling?

Abby, Erin, Holtzmann, and Patty. Because I ain’t afraid of no ghost, and I ain’t afraid of no girl heroes either.

Second Amendment Woes

The first time I heard of gun violence, I was twelve years old. Sandy Hook Elementary School lost 20 children and 6 faculty members, and the media told me the gunman liked video games. We all expressed our sorrows on Facebook, watched speeches from Obama and thought, “we will never let a tragedy like this happen again.”Gun violence hasn’t been out of the news since. After Sandy Hook, we didn’t decide that we had a gun problem in America, but we decided that mass shootings were somehow okay. 

Every day, 89 people die from gun violence in the United States, according to the Brady Campaign. June 12 added 50 people to that daily count, along with 53 injured at the gay bar, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida (you can read more about it here). 

It was the largest mass shooting in US history. And a hate crime committed against the LGBT+ community. The shooter, Omar Mateen, saw two men kissing, and it gave him the incentive to kill. He had been on FBI surveillance years prior, yet was still able to purchase a gun without major issues. 

Weeks earlier, we all mourned UCLA’s shooting. The night before Orlando, Christina Grimme was shot at her own concert. According to Vox, “we’re 164 days into 2016. We’ve had 133 mass shootings.”

Australia experienced a mass shooting in 1996 (not to mention there were plenty before), and gun control became stricter. How many mass shootings has Australia experienced since ‘96? None. Gun control works.

How many vigils will I have to see pictures of, how many presidential speeches will I have to listen to, how many hashtags will I have to see? How many before I’m in those pictures? How many before the speech is for my community? How many before I’m the hashtag? I don’t want to see anymore pictures. I don’t want to hear a speech. And I don’t want to see hashtags. I want people to wake up and realize that their lives are more important than their ability to own a gun. 

We say, “video games influenced him.” We say, “he was mentally ill.” We say, “he pledged allegiance to ISIS.” We say, “he was misguided.” We exercise our second amendment rights to “protect ourselves,” and then the gunmen use that same right to shoot innocent children. America invented Omar Mateen. America raised him with homophobia, told him he was rightful to own a gun, and let him murder innocent people.

So blame the video games. Blame mental illness. Blame ISIS. It doesn’t matter who or what you blame. 50 dead. 53 injured.