Read This Powerful Op-Ed Co-authored by VOYCE Youth Organizer Amina Henderson-Redwan & Parkland Survivor Brandon Dasent

 

Teens from Parkland and Chicago Ask: 'How Many More Must Die?'

Student organizers Brandon Dasent and Amina Henderson unite to push for gun control that will keep kids in their communities safer.

 

My name is Brandon Dasent, and I live in what was considered the safest community in Florida until February 14, 2018.

My name is Amina Henderson, and I live on the south side of Chicago, where young people experience the carnage of gun violence nearly daily.

We are two young people from very different communities, but we have both experienced the trauma caused by gun violence and are pleading for immediate action from local, state and federal policy makers.

Can you imagine living 50 feet from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, coming home to realize that the lives of some of your classmates were taken away? As you try to comprehend the events of the day, and even just fall asleep, the sounds of helicopters and sirens are a reminder that your life will never be the same.

Now imagine having that experience of mayhem and loss every other month, to the point where you are tired of attending the funerals of loved ones. When you live in a community gripped by gun violence, you rarely have time to grieve a victim before the next is gone, and age is not a defense against this trauma. 

In Chicago, between September 2011 and June 2018, 1,665 young people were victims of gun violence, according to the Chicago Tribune. In Florida, 1,284 youth were killed between 2006 and 2016. Nearly half of those fatal shootings happened in South Florida, and two-thirds of the victims were Black children.

Our lived experiences brought us together last fall when we convened in Florida with other student survivors from across the country. We realized then that while survivors in Parkland were being celebrated as heroes, Black and Latinx students in communities that have dealt with gun violence for decades were being marginalized and outright ignored.

We are from different backgrounds and communities, but we both want to know how many more lives must be lost before there is substantive action to make our schools and communities safer? We are not concerned with prayers and well wishes; we want action.

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