In the weeks following the fatal school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Emma González, one of the survivors, has emerged as the face of a growing movement that has declared themselves officially done with gun violence. She’s delivered a series of impassioned speeches that have ripped the NRA and its ties to Donald Trump, publically denounced an NRA representative to her face, and rallied behind an upcoming nation-wide march.
In a new essay published by Harper’s Bazaar, González paints herself as a teen who claims various identities and backdrops. In the opening line of her personal account of what it has been like to fight for gun reform, she matter-of-factly labels herself as an 18-year-old, Cuban bisexual who is “so indecisive that I can’t pick a favorite color.”
She also describes herself as someone who is sorely disappointed in adults.
González wrote of her frustration with being forced to grow up too soon at the hands of adults and their inaction.
All this, she says, despite the fact that teens like her are under constant adult scrutiny. “When did children become such a dirty word? Adults are saying that children are lazy, meanwhile Jaclyn Corin organized an entire trip to Tallahassee, three busses stuffed with 100 kids and reporters who went to discuss our pitiful firearm legislation with the people who can—but won’t—do something about it…” González wrote. “Adults are saying that children are emotional. I should hope so—some of our closest friends were taken before their time because of a senseless act of violence that should never have occurred.”
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the school where the Parkland shooting took place, is the 17th school shooting in 2018 alone. Since the attack, González and other student activists have rallied and called on lawmakers to push for gun reform.
She also emphasized how she and fellow shooting survivors are done with being ignored.
“We are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again,” she wrote. “We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.”
The essay worked to send a clear message to any adult hoping to diminish the efforts of shooting survivors by calling them disrespectful.
In the wake of the shooting, González and her fellow peers have been lambasted by Right-wing conspiracy theorists who have criticized their activism and made false claims that they are crisis actors.
“Adults are saying that children are disrespectful.” González wrote. “But how can we respect people who don’t respect us? We have always been told that if we see something wrong, we need to speak up; but now that we are, all we’re getting is disrespect from the people who made the rules in the first place. Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.”
In perhaps one of the most significant points in her essay, González noted her greatest hope for the survivors of the Parkland tragedy is to be able to return to school and continue to pursue their education and lives.
“We want to know that when we walk onto campus, we won’t have to worry about the possibility of staring down the barrel of a gun. We want to fix this problem so it doesn’t occur again, but mostly we want people to forget about us once this is over,” González wrote. “We want to go back to our lives and live them to the fullest in respect for the dead.”
González essay finished with a call to action for readers: join March for Our Lives on March 24 to protest gun violence and vote for gun reform.