Let Us Listen To All Of Our Young People’s Cries For Help To End Gun Violence

21 Feb

photo credit: IBTimes UK

While this nation mourns the losses of the lives of the seventeen students and teachers who were killed by a former student with an AR-15 assault rifle on Valentines Day at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the nation is also inspired by the student survivors who are speaking out and taking action.

I am inspired by their passion, conviction, and ability to rise up after the devastation and trauma they experienced just last week. These brilliant young people have had enough, and are calling on the adults to keep them safe so that what happened at Parkland never happens again. And, yes, it is a pity that the adults who possess the political power to create better gun control laws, and to ban assault rifles, have thus far done nothing to heed the calls for change–not after Columbine, 19 years ago, not after Virginia Tech, not after Sandy Hook,  not after the Florida night club, not after Las Vegas, and not after Parkland.

Through tweets to the President, and videos gone viral, our young people know how to use social media to mobilize, and to gain widespread attention. The young students at Parkland, out of self-proclaimed necessity, have become overnight anti-gun violence activists. Student Emma Gonzalez’s 10-minute brave and direct speech, has been seen by over 1 million people. Reporters and journalists are contacting and following the students’ activities, which include a planned National March Against Gun Violence in Washington D.C. on March 24th. Here is Emma’s inspirational speech, if you have not yet seen it:

CNN, Florida Student To NRA And Trump: ‘We Call BS’, www.youtube.com, 2/17/18, Emma Gonzalez – 1,170,653 views

There are also young voices that came before these Florida student voices. There are voices of young people who have also risen up over the injustice of senseless killings due to gun violence, and police brutality. There have been Black and Brown young, overnight and over-the-long-haul, youth activists in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York City, and beyond who have risen up after every police shooting of an unarmed Black man, woman, teenager, or child, and who speak on behalf of gun violence in their communities. Their voices have not gone viral like the faces of the mostly white students we are compelled to follow in Florida.

Let’s lift up every voice and give attention to all the cries of all of our youth who want to make the neighborhoods they live in safe. Who want to be able to go to school and return home at the end of the day. Who want to be able to enjoy a celebration while sitting on the stoop of their home without being killed, either accidentally, or intentionally, during a drive-by shooting. Who want to be seen as human beings deserving of our country’s attention and care, instead of looked at as thugs as Braxton Begley says in the following teen group interview conducted after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Begley speaks about how instead of portraying the positive things that take place with youth who spend time in community centers, and doing positive things in their city, they only portray the negative, like the riots that broke out after Freddie Gray’s funeral. Begley quoted Dr. King who said, “Riots are the language of the unheard,” and how he believes that that is true, because “if we could get justice, if people cared, this wouldn’t happen. This is what people do to get attention.” Student, Lewis Dixon added, “we are greater than what is being shown about Baltimore. Dixon, earlier in the interview, lamented how he and his friends shouldn’t have to worry about their safety in their encounters with police, while Kimberly Ben worried that once the media coverage was gone, she and her community would be forgotten for the next cause.

CNN Interview, Teens Talk About The Death Of Freddie Gray, www.youtube.com, 5/2/15, featuring Baltimore High School Students, Zion Shaw, Darius Craig, Rickey Goodwin, Lewis Dixon, Kimberly Ben, Braxton Bagley – 1,858 views



Follow Shane Flowers here in this TIME video made during the Ferguson, Missouri protests after the police shooting of teenager, Michael Brown. Shane, 14, asks, “He was getting ready to go to college…I’m 14..What if that was me fixing to go to college? And I’m the only person in my family..and then I die…What if I died right before I was getting ready to go to college? 18…that’s too young to die…”  Even more poignant, were the words of Shane’s friend as they waled together into the night to join other protesters along the side of a highway. “…this is how we are going to unite..every body showing love here..what’s so crazy though, is that nobody heard about it until we started doing this. It was on BET, on CNN, when this started happening. They weren’t worrying about the Michael Browns then..they had bigger and better things to worry about than people breaking into stores..I understand it’s wrong, but if the law didn’t sit there and shoot this man, we wouldn’t have gone through none of this..the stores wouldn’t have been broken into…this wouldn’t have been burned down..” His plea, like Kimberly Ben’s in Baltimore, was for America to care enough about these young people’s lives to do something about it.

TIME video, Am I Next:Ferguson’s Protests Through The Eyes Of A Teenager, www.youtube.com, 8/14/14, featuring Shane Flowers, 14 –  390, 000 views


In this third video from a four-part Town Hall discussion, Baltimore high school students talk about the struggles to envision a better Baltimore. One young man expresses, “…the reason we’re so disconnected..it’s a war for survival for people, for poor people…it’s hard to focus on anything else when you are trying to figure out how you’re gonna eat or live the next day..it’s sad, it’s depressing..sometimes you just numb yourself to get by…and so it’s hard to think long-term goals, like doing the work done during the civil rights movement..” One young woman related, “after the leaders of the civil rights leaders were assassinated, there was no passing of the torch to the next generation..we need to cultivate new leaders, and us young people need to receive training on how to develop as leaders…”  I’d say that was spoken like a true leader. You’ll find much more wisdom in this interview. It’s 20 minutes in length, but definitely worth the listen.

theRealnews.com, Baltimore Youth Speak About How To Reduce Violence, www.youtube.com, 9/30/14, featuring Baltimore high school students – 1,251 views


Finally, here in Providence, Rhode Island residents have cried out for some time for an end to gun violence. In this video, community members of all ages, including activist and current mayoral candidate, Kobi Dennis, and Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Higher Ground International, Henrietta White-Holder, call for peace.

WPRI, Providence Peace Rally, www.youtube.com, 7/1/13 – 43 views


I have great faith in our young people. All of them. And, like all of you, want them to feel safe, be safe, and have the freedom to flourish, and make the world the better place that we all are so desperately seeking.

7 Responses to “Let Us Listen To All Of Our Young People’s Cries For Help To End Gun Violence”

  1. Karen Kidd February 21, 2018 at 10:27 am #

    Thank you for this in-depth look at the state of our youth in today’s turbulent times, Wendy. I appreciate the article more than I can express. I was shocked by the outcries of the youth in Baltimore. I so understand the fears and loss felt by them and their fellow companions in Ferguson, MO., and Parkland, Fl…and all across the nation, really. It IS hard to focus on making positive changes in life when poverty has a grip on your everyday life. I so admire all the brave youth from all across this damaged land, and pray that they will one day make a change for all generations to come. We do need young leaders to pass the torch to. Rise up, young people and do what our generation so blatantly failed at.

    • Wendy Jane February 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm #


      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I feel what you are saying, and also have such great admiration and awe for how these young people are able to stand up and express themselves, from the heart, and yet with a brilliant knowing of what’s up, and with candid honesty, too. Yes, rise up!

      Thank you again, Karen,

  2. kobi February 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

    Cops stop being proactive and crime goes up..who would have thought? Ferguson and Baltimore are prime examples of the left”s failed polices..judging by the liberal policies of the BOS and LA City Coincil. ..it”s just a matter of time before Los Angeles begins to feel the “Ferguson effect which is supported by the rise in current crime statistics. Give a great big thank you to Charlie Beck and Sheriff McDonnell. Couldn”t of done it without you. What say you CF?

  3. Sherry Gordon February 28, 2018 at 1:07 am #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Well, hi, there, Wendy Jane, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, sistah, WOW here!!!! What a beautiful, brilliant beautiful, inspirational, and emboldening blog post article here which just made my very heart and spirit soar and leap for such sheer blessed joy!!!!!! I've been just bursting with such delightfully eager anticipations to respond to this very engaging and endearing blog post article with all my responses the way I usually do! Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep with insomnia so I thought that instead of continuing to toss and turn to no avail that I'd feel better writing to absolutely FANTASTIC YOU and your very encouraging blog, Wendy Jane!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, Wendy Jane you are just awesome working so hard and so much with all that you have with all of your very being as such a steadfast and dedicate white anti-racist woman and ally in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, my sweet white sistah!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW!!!!! I can just tell so wonderfully how diligently and conscientiously you worked on this outstanding blog post article putting all of your so, so very precious and special heart, mind, spirit, and soul into this!!!!! WOW, what a masterfully composed blog post article in the written word here, sistahfriend!!!!!! Sistahfriend, the title of this very spectacular blog post article here is just perfect and perfectly applicable to the great themes and topics of this stupendous blog post article. I love the picture which you've very graciously and generously featured and included with this very enlightening blog post article here, my friend! This little girl in this picture is just the greatest and the best! Just broke my heart with her beseeching poster with such poignant words on it! AWWWWWW, my sweet white and Jewish sister I thank-YOU so, so much for how you've very graciously and generously featured and included these very powerful and informative links to these very vitally urgent, must-see, and important videos here! WOW!!!!!YOU ARE so, so very right on, sisterfriend-we must listen to the voices of our young people and take immediate and effective, productively proactive, efficient action!!!!! WOW!!!!! I'm so, so very incredibly proud of all of our young folks everywhere both near and far, Wendy Jane!!!!!!!! YOU, my sweet Jewish and white sistah, Wendy Jane, and I, and very many other persons, too, celebrate our young persons!!!!! I just so love how the young people in your beautiful Providence, Rhode Island have so courageously raised their voices in protest, sistah!!!!! Young folks in my beloved Iowa City, Iowa and throughout my great state of Iowa have been protesting and marching!!!!! I'm just so, so very much moved to tears with all of our wonderful young persons everywhere both near and far, my dear, dearest, precious Wendy Jane!!!!!!! Your two girls are just brilliantly wonderful, too, like their very awesome peers trying very valiantly to create change with their very undaunted courage, faith, and hope, Wendy Jane!!!!! All of these amazing young folks everywhere both near and far just inspire and embolden me immensely blessing me and all of us as they are our very future and our hope!!!!!! WOW, they are all just the very greatest and the best, sisterfriend!!!!! Sisterfriend, I'm just all teary-eyed from your beautiful, special and precious heart and spirit with this superb blog post article here and with all you do always trying, always learning, making a change, and with this very urgent clarion call with this stupendous blog post article, Wendy Jane!!!!! 🙂 <3 I so appreciate YOU, sistah and how you so love and cherish ALL of our children like with our black and brown children, and how they also need for their concerns to be listened to and to receive much recognition and praise. YOU ARE so, so very right on, sister, when you very wisely share and declare here that often our black and brown children are overlooked! YOU LOVE ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, my sweet friend, my dear, dearest, precious Wendy Jane!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    WOW, Wendy Jane, I've nothing but unlimited superlatives for YOU, my sistah and friend, for this all-star blog post article and all of your other empowering blog post articles, and other fine and excellent writings, and for all you do with such a devoted and indomitable heart and spirit!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, I just so love this super blog post article here and I so love and appreciate how hard you worked on it with an illuminating blog post article full of such vast and rich details and so chock full of such great information here!!!!! WOW!!!!! I, too, have such great faith in all of our young folks everywhere both near and far, Wendy Jane!!!!! They deserve the chance to survive and thrive!!!!!! Oh, my sistahfriend, how I feel even better and brighter with even more greatly added cheer after very joyfully reading this awesome blog post article and very joyously responding with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments!!!!!! YAY for YOU, Wendy Jane!!!!!! YAY for our very sistahhood and friendship, Wendy Jane!!!!! WOW!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!! I thank-YOU and God continually FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE, WENDY JANE!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YOU ARE my life's and eternal blessings, sistah, as I know that you are for very, very many other people with I, and we, all loving and cherishing you so, so very much just as we know that you love and cherish us right back at us!!!!!! 🙂 <3 By the time that you read this it will be Wednesday so please have such a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week and weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed!!!! I just cannot wait and am bursting with such delightfully eager anticipation to write all of my responses the way I usually do as soon as I'm able and doing so are my very joys, honors, blessings, and pleasures, sisterfriend, and such great fun for me, too, Wendy Jane!!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWW, my sweet sistah, YOU ARE just the very best and the greatest and such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Wendy Jane, sistahfriend of mine!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my awesomely special and dearly precious FOR ALAWYS soul sistahfriend who you're FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Wendy Jane, sisterfriend of mine, with My and Spirit's VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine, AND WITH SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, 🙂 <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend black woman AND FOR ALWAYS IN THE VERY GREAT SPIRIT OF UNITY AND SOLIDARITY, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

    • Wendy Jane March 1, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

      Hi Sherry,

      Thank you so much, Sherry! I know you support all of your youth, too.

      Wendy Jane

  4. Wendy Jane March 1, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks so much for reading, and for sharing your perspective. What a great way of looking at the matter. Spoken like a true photographer, and true, loving, human.


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  1. When The Photo You Want To Use For Your Blog Post Belongs To A Racist Photographer | Wendy Jane's Soul Shake - February 28, 2018

    […] wanted to find a lead photo to go with my most recent blog post, Let Us Listen To All Of Our Young People’s Cries For Help To End Gun Violence, and I wanted the photo to represent black and brown youth who cried out in pain over the unjust […]

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