TRAILBLAZER THURSDAY: Emma González
by Melanie Roberts
In an age where school shootings have appallingly become a frequent occurrence, 18-year-old Emma González was determined the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School wasn’t going to be just another school on the list. Publicized for a week and then forgotten.
She famously stood up days after the attack in Parkland, Florida to address her community, the public and the media/government to say, “We Call B.S.!” González urged the crowd that victims were the ones to make changes.
On the morning of February 14, 2018, González woke up and got ready for school like any normal day. Students exchanged valentines, attended class and ate lunch in the cafeteria. What González, other students and staff didn’t anticipate was former student Nikolas Cruz upheaving their whole lives. Described by many as a gun-enthusiast who battled mental illness and depression, Cruz was known for violent outbursts.
He began unleashing semi-automatic fire on the first floor using a .223-caliber AR-15 rifle, working his way through the high school.
Hiding in a classroom unsure of her fate, González comforted other students until rescue teams gave them the all clear. Though she survived, seventeen others didn’t make it out alive.
When President Trump could only offer “thoughts and prayers” in response, González pushed back and shouted that wasn’t enough. She claimed it’s harder to make weekend plans with friends than it is to purchase a gun in Florida.
“If you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead,” González said. “So, it’s time to start doing something.”
She noted America has one of the highest number of school shootings annually. Australia hasn’t had one since 1999, Canada has had three, the UK only one, and Japan hasn’t ever had a mass shooting.
As of May, CNN reported 23 school shootings in 2018 alone. That’s basically one school shooting a week.
Since the shooting, González started the Never Again MSD, a gun-control advocacy group, was interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres and wrote a poem that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar.
The poem read:
“My Name is Emma González. I’m 18 years old, Cuban and bisexual. I’m so indecisive that I can’t pick a favorite color, and I’m allergic to 12 things. I draw, paint, crochet, sew, embroider—anything productive I can do with my hands while watching Netflix. But none of this matters anymore,” she wrote. “What matters is that the majority of American people have become complacent in a senseless injustice that occurs all around them.”
It’s sad to know kids now have to go through shooting drills and worry about the safety of going to school, a place where they are supposed to feel the safe.
It’s refreshing to see a young woman so passionate about her beliefs she has the courage to stand up in front of the world and demand a change.
Whether you agree with González’s beliefs/statements or not, this brave Florida native is a force to be reckoned with and her tenacity inspires young people everywhere to stand up, speak out and don’t wait for changes to happen. Be the change.