Parkland Kids Aren’t Taking Your Sh*t

by Brielle Wyka

Gen Z has already forged a reputation for being politically active and aware. Who can blame us? We’ve had to endure quite a lot of injustice and terror in the few short decades we’ve been alive. Most recently, we witnessed yet another school shooting, lost 17 more friends, teachers, and loved ones, and have had another talk about America’s gun problem. But what’s different now is that this time, we’re making sure we’re heard. This time, we’re making sure people are talking to us instead of about us.

Our people in Parkland, Florida are no exception. The survivors and allies from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) are amongst the strongest of our generation. Their world has been shaken up and torn apart by gun violence.

Yet, amidst their mourning, they are fighting. In true Gen Z fashion, they’re using social media to tell their stories and rally for gun reform.

The high schoolers of MSDHS started a political dialogue on gun control by documenting their first-hand accounts of the traumatic shooting on Snapchat and Twitter, utilizing media to voice their concerns. Currently, they continue to fight for action on gun violence through their socials.

After the shooting, many MSDHS students took to Twitter, shared their opinions, shut down trolls, and demanded that their story be told truthfully and justly. Understandably, they are hurt and grieving, but that has not stopped them from fighting back. MSDHS students are here to make sure people know that they’re not backing down.

They aren’t putting up with anything that isn’t the truth, and they’re not afraid to call anyone out, including President Donald Trump. The students of MSDHS aren’t using the attention they are receiving to rehash their sob-stories. In the wake of yet another deadly school shooting, these students are calling for justice, action, and legislation.

For Gen Z-ers,  gun violence has been a prominent issue our entire lives. We were born during the Columbine shootings of 1999. We grew up learning that nowhere is safe – not the movies, not church, not concerts, and ESPECIALLY not school. We’re sick of it, and if anyone proves that it’s our peers in Florida who are calling for change.

The youth of Parkland refuse to tolerate the reluctance toward gun-control legislation that has influenced American politics. They know firsthand how it feels to be unsafe at school, and now that they have the country’s attention, they’re not going to stop talking about the gun violence problem until it’s fixed.

Usually, young people tend to follow the path of those that came before, but Gen Z is unique in that we are trailblazers. Most of us can’t vote yet, don’t have jobs, and a lot of us can’t even drive yet. Despite all this, we’re taking notes. We’re studying the political climate and we’re strategizing to see where we can take it.

When we hold the power, we will be prepared to enact the change we weren’t able to see as kids. And in case the students in Parkland didn’t make it clear – boy, do we have plans.

Meanwhile, this tragedy seems to mark a shift in political focus. Through their widespread vocalization of the issues on Twitter and other socials, these Gen Z-ers are being recognized as prominent political voices by public figures. Bill Maher quoted one of the student’s tweets on his show Real Time with Bill Maher and pointedly said, “I feel like something is different about this time, and maybe it’s because the children are speaking out.”

Gen Z is paying attention so we know how to fix what we don’t like. Gen Z is not going to stand by silently as tragedy after tragedy happens to us. We know what happens when you don’t fight hard enough – the fallout of the 2016 election, the increase in school shootings, and the lack of action from our representatives aren’t a wake-up call for us; instead, they are our call to action.

This is the first of many battles we will fight as we grow up in this world that we’ve inherited. Gen Z will clean up the mess we didn’t ask for.

Emma González full speech, featured in image above.

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