I am an Oklahoma woman. One small voice in the middle of the Bible Belt, in a city known as the Heart of Oklahoma. I used to believe this was as far as my voice could ever reach. Then, I found out I was pregnant.
Nine days before my daughter’s birth, my partner left and never returned. I could have succumbed to the pain and anger I felt, but I didn’t. I had my first child, moved homes, became a college student for the first time and discovered the meaning of being called “Mom.”
That’s when I realized my voice could reach further than I had imagined — it must.
My daughter is 1-year-old, and every day, I grow more fearful and worried about what her future might hold. If something happened to me today, who would stand up for my daughter tomorrow? Who would protect my child for me?
This week, I realized, no one will stand for my daughter unless she becomes another hashtag that goes viral.
Yesterday, Stacy Wright and Danielle Brown led a walkout and protest to present the Norman High School administration with an urgent call-to-action and one very real message:
We will stand for our daughters because you didn’t.
While speaking with Stacy, the voice of the mothers, she emphasized their anger and shock at the lack of action taken by the teachers and other members of the administration.
She expressed that the #YesAllDaughters viral campaign is not about the way the Norman Police Department is handling the investigation; it’s about the school allowing the victims to be bullied. Bullied to the point where they no longer felt like they could return to the classroom.
By the end of the protest on Monday, three victims became four victims. Another one of our daughters became a victim of violence.
On August 9, Lesley McSpadden lost her son, Michael Brown. After the decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Brown, McSpadden reacted to news that her son will not receive justice with the same intensity and emotion to the ruling.
As she screamed and wept in disbelief and anger, millions of us stood and raised our hands and voices along with her.
When her son hit the ground in a storm of unmerited violence and bullets, the people of Ferguson, MO learned that their voices can reach further than their hometown — they must.
On Saturday, the parents of Tamir Rice sat in the hospital with their 12-year-old son. They sat beside him, hoping and praying for God to spare his life, after he was shot two times in the chest by a police officer.
Tamir had responded to police with a childlike response; he put his hands down to his waistband and pulled out his fake gun. Even the officers of the department confirm it was never aimed at police.
On Sunday, those parents mourned the death of a son. Another one of our children becomes a victim to violence.
This is our culture.
Now, news networks are careful to specify “rookie cop” when telling the public how another one of our children lost his life. As if being a rookie makes it alright.
As if we won’t notice the black demographic that’s been targeted over and over, while we pretend the Civil Rights Movement erased bigotry, racism and hate from our nation.
Schools hide behind politics and professional agendas after failing to protect the students, while getting paid from the pockets of the parents of children they are obligated to protect. They blame the victims. They laugh at the students. They ignore the bullies and the rumors they hear in the hall.
Police officers gun down our children and then justify it:
Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions.
You’re damn right, we’re angry!
So, how do we respond?
They’re Our Children!
Violence is trending, and there’s no hashtag to say it, so allow me.
We have a culture of violence and a tolerance of injustice.
We spend a lot of time acknowledging gender roles and fighting for rights: “Stop the violence against women!” But, we forget our children are boys and girls. Children are children.
When one child suffers, as parents who have held the same small hands and loved the same small hearts, we should be front and center when it comes to speaking out against any and all violence.
Black or white, boy or girl, teen or toddler, well-behaved or not, every child depends on our voice. We are the parents.
We’ve been so busy sticking to one cause or side for so long when it comes to the subject of domestic violence, we’ve neglected to see the bigger picture. We have tunnel vision when it comes to the stats.
Domestic violence affects 12.7 million people each year — men, women and children, alike. Violence doesn’t discriminate; it has no lines. The corruption is not in the gender, it is in the people.
It’s time for men and women to drop their battle signs and hold up a new one:
NO MORE CHILDREN. NO MORE VICTIMS. WE ARE PARENTS.
I stopped supporting the fight to end violence against women. It’s time to end violence against all people.