Desensitized America

Jazmine Necessary


Jazmine Necessary

Jazmine Necessary, Editor in Chief

I walk into my house, children run around and play. Crafts dry on the dining room table. A normal craft night for the children of my church and family. I walk into a room where a group of children play with cars, their ages ranging from 3 years old to 6 years old. A normal scene in suburbia. My oldest nephew screams. 

“Aunt Jazzy is an intruder, go into lockdown. Aunt Jazzy is a school shooter, go into lockdown.”

Normal in a desensitized America.

I walk into the living room. I feel sick. Do I need to cry? Scream? Throw up? I sit on the couch and try to process the scene that unfolded in front of me. I try to process a first grader’s decision to play a game of school shooter. I try to process the mayhem of the world in a different way. How do I convey the importance of the drill to children. How do I explain to them somebody may want to come into their school and kill them and their friends? How do I tell them the way they process this horrific topic is wrong?

The group of children run out to the living room with nerf guns and a new wave of nausea hits. I have never had a problem with children who play with a toy gun, but as my nephew holds this gun in my face I feel nothing but panic. His mixed skin is lighter than his father’s, but not white enough to protect him. Thoughts of this young black man infront of me pointing a gun at somebody else as a game sends me into a near panic attack.

What would happen if my nephew played with this toy gun in our front yard?

I have never faced discrimination based on the color of my skin, but I know he will. I have never had to worry if my innocent actions seem suspicious, but I know he will. I have never had to worry if a police officer thinks a mundane object in my hand is a gun, but I know he will.

Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe we have not broken a little piece of his childhood. Maybe him thinking of a drill used to protect him from a shooter as a game is the new normal. But maybe we should worry more about the mental and emotional health of the children than guns.

When did the attempt to protect children turn into one that scars them?

I will not say drills do not serve an important purpose because they do. They at least give parents a peace of mind that the school does something to keep their child safe. But as we load up on school safety we begin to take something away from the children. Their innocence. We put so much pressure on schools to keep children safe, so they do. In the process to protect their physical health we push their mental-emotional health to the side.

I walked into that craft night unaware a first grader would shift my world with such simple actions. I have never thought about how our politics affect the young. They understand more than we give them credit for, but they do not know how to process it. We need to start the conversation and take care of this issue before it grows into a bigger problem.

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