This past weekend, my Twitter was flooded with tweets about the thousands of marches happening all across the country. As I scrolled through my newsfeed I couldn’t help but relive the hoax shooting that happened just a block down from my apartment 10 days earlier. I never thought that The March For Our Lives would hit so close to home. Hundreds of thousands of students marched for me, my roommates, my classmates, and my city in which I live and love.
There are days that are marked in my memory forever. My sixteenth birthday party, my parents dropping me off at college for the first time, graduation, the first day of seminary, my grandmother dying and now, the day I feared for my life in ways that I never anticipated or expected.
I’ll never forget my roommate texting me multiple times to see if I had been watching the news or checking my emails. I told her that I had briefly checked my emails just minutes before, but I didn’t see anything concerning. She promptly called me, told me to lock the doors, close the blinds and stay behind the locked bedroom door. There I was, sitting in a silent room watching the news scroll across the bottom of the television while helicopters flew overhead and cops sped past on the road below me.
You see, living with anxiety and PTSD means that moments like these are magnified. Without a full story in front of me about what was happening just outside my apartment building, my anxiety was running ramped and my flashbacks and dissociative behaviors were triggered.
For over an hour I stared at a blank wall and relived traumatic events as I hoped the scene outside would soon cease. As the story unfolded and more information was released to the public, we soon were told that the shooting was in fact a hoax. Someone had made a call in Southwest Illinois to the Evanston police and created a story that would create quite a stir in this quiet yet busy college town.
While I was alone in my apartment texting those I love that there was a shooter near and that I wasn’t too sure of the details, my classmates and professors were locked in library basements, classrooms and laundry rooms. People that I have sat around countless tables with talking theology and discussing the importance of being active theologians in a world in desperate need for justice and change.
Everything that we have worked for, studied for, cried for, fought for was happening on the very sacred grounds that we have inhabited while we have been on campus. I cannot tell you the amount of classes and dinner conversations that surrounded the topic of gun control and the need for laws and regulations that protect and keep safe the people of our nation.
The SWAT teams, the police, news helicopters, and firefighting teams were all called to one specific location to locate and contain a potential dangerous and life-threating situation. In a 30 second phone call, hundreds of people were called to protect and ensure the safety of the citizens of Evanston.
And now, here we are over 2 weeks later and the sting of a hoax still hits somewhere I didn’t even know existed in my soul. I find myself double and triple locking the apartment door, making sure I check all my surroundings as I walk to my car across the street and keep an eye on every door in the church as I lead Sunday morning worship.
This is not the world in which God intended. We have created and worshipped guns for the sake of holding on to a constitution that was written when black folk were considered 3/5 of a person. I don’t know about you, but that is not the world in which I want to live.
I want to live in a world where my black friends, queer friends, republican and democrat friends can all live in a world where we value life, no matter what changes may come.
So I ask you, at what cost will you deny humanity the right to live without fear of being shot and killed in the streets, apartments and schools of America?