freedom to move

I am you. —Anonymous

Never apologize for being human. —James, Florida

We love you and feel your long days and sleepless nights. —Barbara

Be well and know I do not send prayers, I send Sistah Strength from my tiny little heart to yours. —Tammy, Virgin Islands

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even like anyone who would win a Miss Congeniality contest. —Lorry, Maine

Thank you for being real. —Nancy

These were just some of the thoughtful responses to my last blog post titled, my apologies. Several readers couldn't make sense of why I penned such sentiments to the world. The letter of apology was a version of one I had written to a few individuals at Calvin's school, expressing regret for some sleep-deprived, emotionally-spent irritability I had displayed, in part because of a newly installed, apparently malfunctioning security-door system at Calvin's school meant to limit access, ostensibly of any potential school shooters.

Last Wednesday, I'd taken Calvin to school a couple of hours late after he had suffered his now-weekly grand mal seizure at three the same morning. In my exhaustion, having not slept since then, I was easily vexed after finding out the junior high's new entry button didn't seem to be working. Frustrated, Calvin and I had to wait outside in the cold, unnoticed (Calvin is not the greatest at standing still; because of the epilepsy drugs, his body needs to move.) When I was informed that I was, purportedly, the only one having a problem with the system, I became further irritated. Then, when a kind and well-intentioned person suggested she show me how to press the button correctly (it's pretty darn straight forward; it's a button ... you press it) I grew more perturbed. These events—the seizure, the sleep deprivation, the button glitch—were probably what pushed me over the edge of congeniality. Having already been distressed by the recent papering-over of the nice large windows in Calvin's street-side classroom, I went on to lament the tragedy that some boys and men in this nation are troubled to the point that they shoot up churchgoers and schoolchildren. In my mind, what makes matters worse is the notion that teachers be armed, an idea promoted mostly by those with a twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment—that we all have a right to own semiautomatic weapons, high-speed and armor-piercing ammunition—and those who think the answer to more gun injuries and deaths is to have more guns.

At a dinner with friends on Saturday night I shared my frustration about the papering-over of Calvin's classroom windows. I stressed the fact that our kids don't get enough of the outdoors, much less having the sight of trees and sky blocked out at school. Besides, the vast majority of children who are hurt and killed by guns, I learned recently, are not shot in school massacres. Papering over their windows, in my mind, is akin to letting these terrorists and would-be terrorists win; Parisians and Barcelonians don't avoid going to markets, cafes and concerts in the wake of mass shootings, because they want to deprive terrorists of the power to curb their freedom to move.

The image of countless armed guards and gun-packing teachers, and the papering over of school windows brings to mind prisons. Will we do away with outdoor recess for elementary school kids, too? What happens when guns discharge in the classroom accidentally? We all know they do. What if an armed school teacher feels "threatened" by a student? I've no doubt that the presence of more guns in schools will lead to senseless harm and death, predominantly of children of color. One must simply look at statistics, at the legions of Black schoolchildren who are disproportionately and more harshly punished than others, and at the scores of unarmed and innocent Black men, women and children who are gunned down by police while their armed White countrymen are handled with kid gloves; we know that too many White folks, whether consciously or not, wrongly see Black people—even children—as bad, dangerous and criminal.

I think back to those moments at Calvin's school, to when I was called back in because his ed-techs thought he might have suffered a partial complex seizure, to when the principal kindly re-introduced himself to a haggard, exasperated me, to when the door alarm problem was deemed mine to own. In the wake of the events, I wish we didn't have the tendency to jump to conclusions. I wish we weren't driven by fear. I wish there weren't fearmongers and liars and gluttons and powermongers, misogynists, bigots, bullies, despots and creeps to prey upon our goodness and our failings. I wish teachers were equipped with higher salaries, with adequate supplies, and with smaller classes to address the needs of neglected students who might otherwise want to do harm.

I saw a meme recently, one that cleverly and simply debunks the favorite gun-rights' argument, "guns don't kill people; people kill people." The meme reads:

If guns don't kill people, they don't protect people either.

Makes complete sense to me.

I hope people begin to understand the statistically significant fact that they and their loved ones are less safe in homes where guns are kept. I hope folks turn in their guns so we can melt them down. I hope soon we can tear down the brown paper that makes walls out of windows and prisons out of our children's schools. My son already lives in a prison of body and mind that limits his, and our, precious freedom to move.

Learn some facts about school shootings here.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. God. I haven’t read your post but already know that I walk in your shoes. My response is fuck everything and everybody. It’s all impossible some days.

  2. They papered over the windows. Why? That makes no sense whatsoever.