We’re just 11 weeks into 2018, and there’s been at least 17 school shootings in the U.S. Young lives have been lost in tragedies across Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Washington. And though they cannot yet vote, get served in a bar, or get a credit card, it’s the teenagers who are leading the country’s most vital conversation on gun control and violence in response to this bloodshed. It won’t be the politicians we elect to power or the authorities we trust to keep us safe that trigger the catalyst for change, but an American youth refusing to be caught in the crossfire any more.
Today on Dazed, we listen intently to a small faction of the huge youth movement against gun violence. In a poem written and performed by students of White Plains High School, New York, these young people ponder the silence and intimidation that surrounds them as they stand to make a difference: “They ask why we march out of class, pour onto the streets, and we ask back, why are teens taught to keep tongues between their teeth?”
The students featured in this new video, produced by BRAVO, have become vocal local activists, recently taking over Dazed’s Instagram during the state-wide school walkouts.
‘We Ask Back’ is a rallying cry for action, as this weekend, thousands will take to the streets in the March for our Lives protests in the U.S and across the world in solidarity. It’s a movement that says “never again” to violence enabled by the state, and the searing trauma that comes with it. It’s a demonstration of hope and care shown by the most vulnerable – but right now, the most powerful – who say: enough.
“I’ve grown up with the very real threat of being shot dead in school,” says Harriet Rose. “I don’t think people really have taken the time to process this: to think about how our kids go to class with trauma. But now I don’t think we can be silent about this anymore. I think teenagers are often stuck in a difficult place between self doubt and perceived doubt. Often, we feel like when we speak up people aren’t listening and that stops us from talking at all. There’s a lot of fear of our own ideas. So to me, when I watched Emma Gonzalez and other teen activists unapologetically speak up, my own silence was stamped out, too. We have to be loud. We have to drown out the doubts of our parents, politicians and NRA members. We have to be louder than the bullets through our halls.”