As many Richmond-area students prepare to walkout of class Wednesday to protest gun violence, the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked two students to write personal essays about why, at 10 a.m., they'll leave their school building.
The students were given a simple prompt: Why are you walking out?
Here is the essay from Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico County:
You forced us to.
A kid is shot, we do nothing. A school is shot up, we do nothing. A pregnant mother is shot, we do nothing. An unarmed man is shot, we do nothing. A news reporter is shot while on live TV, we do nothing. A class of third-graders are shot, we do nothing. No matter how bad and how inhumane the shooting, the response has remained the same … do nothing and move on.
No matter how ugly and how many lives are taken, whether it be 32 in Blacksburg or 58 in Las Vegas, we continue to act like this is normal. We continue to pretend that it’s OK to have someone walk into a school, and in the blink of an eye to shoot a piece of metal that rips through the skin and the heart of a 14-year-old kid that hasn’t even experienced his or her first love. And we continue to do absolutely nothing about it … no laws, no policies, no changes.
This isn’t the America which our history teachers educate us about every day. This isn’t the America that protects the rights of every individual and furthers “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
No, this is the America where politicians and leaders prioritize lobbyists and money over the lives of kids. This is the America where we’re told that we’re too young to have a say, and instead that we should shut up, ride along, and hope we don’t get shot, waiting for the adults in the room to do the job.
But they haven’t done their jobs. They haven’t listened, they haven’t made changes, and they haven’t stopped kids from getting shot.
Quite frankly, we’re sick of it.
We may not have a vote, but we’re sick of not having a say. We’re sick of hiding in the corners of classrooms during active shooter drills, wondering if today could be the day we lose our lives for simply following the rules. We’re sick of having our friends, our classmates and our life loves victimized by guns.
We’re taught from day one to stand up for ourselves. That’s what we’re doing. We’re walking out of school to say we’ve had enough. We’re walking out for our lives. We’re walking out to fight for improved school safety and gun reforms among other changes to fix an epidemic of shootings.
On Wednesday, March 14, the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, we’re walking out of school at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the Stoneman Douglas (High School) shooting, saying we’ve had enough. On Saturday, March 24, we’re marching in cities across the nation, asking for our leaders to start valuing human life over money. On Friday, April 20, the 19th anniversary of Columbine, we’re walking out of school for the entire day, bringing together students and Virginians from across the state to the State Capitol, asking for our policy makers to pass real changes addressing shootings and gun violence.
If we’re ignored, if our leaders refuse to take action, we’ll continue to fight. This is a fight for our lives.
You’re not taking action … so we are.