#ShesGotVERVE - Why We Love Emma Gonzalez

In the wake of yet another senseless school shooting which claimed 17 lives at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Emma Gonzalez has emerged as the inspirational voice of anti-gun advocacy for young people in America. The highschool senior went viral following her 11 minute speech at an anti-gun rally in which she pledged, along with her peers, to pressure lawmakers to repeal the Second Amendment, a law which gives Americans the right to “bear arms”. Emma has gone on to publicly challenge legislators, Trump, and the National Rifle Association (NRA). She has become an activist, an advocate and an emblem of the power that young voices can exert in the fight for change. This is why we love Emma Gonzalez!

She’s Spearheading a Mass Movement

Just four days after the shooting, Emma Gonzalez, along with her schoolmates, used an anti-gun rally as a platform to express their indignation, grief and anger that yet another preventable mass shooting took away so many young lives. On that dreaded day, Stoneman Douglas High school became Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Sutherland Springs Church. That day, the high school was added to the rapidly expanding list of deadly mass shootings in U.S history. And on that day, the students of Stoneman Douglas High School vowed that they will be the last mass shooting ever.

We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.
— Emma Gonzalez
 Image Source: Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Image Source: Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Not only did Emma’s speech go viral, but she used her initiative to maintain the momentum of the mass movement, amassing over 1 million followers on Twitter (@Emma4Change). She is currently involved in supporting the March for Our Lives on March 24 2018 and has championed the #NeverAgain movement created by fellow student Cameron Kasky. She has given countless interviews to the media, faced legislators and representatives from the NRA and rallied together other teenagers to protest the injustice of gun laws in the U.S.

She Has Become a Teenage Icon

In a world where popular culture revolves around beauty trends, fashion icons, and memes, it’s refreshing to see young women like Emma Gonzalez emerging as an icon for teenagers around the U.S. Emma’s unfiltered passion and dedication has landed her interviews and features in the media and publications such as Teen Vogue and Glamour magazine, to name a few. She’s dismantling the stereotype that teenagers in the U.S are complacent, politically unaware and self-absorbed and taking on the ‘adult’ world, which has failed to make the changes that she, along with her peers, are fighting for. She’s putting teenagers on a pedestal, showing how they can come together to destroy the status quo, fight for injustice and actually make a change. Essentially, she is being more proactive than the ‘adults’ in positions of power that have failed her and her peers. And they’re doing all this while having to grieve and overcome an unimaginable trauma.

Our motivation is each other … each and every person and putting together a brilliant argument one at a time. We’re taking inspiration from each other and we’re all taking the grief that we feel for our friends that we’re not allowed to feel because we’re having to be the adults in this situation — we’re taking that grief and putting it forward. We’re taking care of business the only way that we know how.
— Emma Gonzalez, Interview with People.com.

She’s Unapologetically Fierce

 Image source: CNN

Image source: CNN

Armed with her fearless voice and indignation, Emma Gonzalez has shown a quality that most politicians lack: unapologetic ferocity and true passion for her cause. Her speech was direct and straight to the point. She doesn’t waffle or try to skirt around certain issues, instead, she uses facts, figures, and anecdotes to create a clear picture and objective. She confronts the victim-blaming rhetoric that emerged following the shooting, calls out the President, the NRA and the complacency of people that possess the power to make changes. She defies those who have tried to undermine her and her peers by saying they are too young to understand. Her showdown with NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch at the CNN town hall showed that she doesn’t take any crap. She validates the teenage voice, she gives a damn, and she won’t be silenced until a change has been made.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids, our parents, seem to be the only ones who notice and to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of teenagers these days, saying that we are all self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
— Emma Gonzalez

And she’s only getting started. According to an interview with People, Emma’s current priority is the midterm elections and making sure that the right people are elected into office who will make a real difference. Then there’s the March for Our Lives which has already raised over $2 million in donations. Long term goal? Take action to end mass shootings, repeal the Second Amendment and make America a country where teenagers don’t have to fear for their lives every time they step into their school building. Emma Gonzalez is an unapologetic advocate, powerful icon and young woman who, with her army of fellow teenagers, is taking on the nonsensical patriarchal system that values money over individual lives.

#ShesGotVERVE

You can read the full transcript of Emma’s speech here.

 

How can you get involved?

Find your local March for Our Lives and JOIN IN on March 24.
Make a donation to the March for Our Lives.
Support Everytown.

Don’t stop talking about it. Tweet. Facebook. Instagram. #NeverAgain.

 

Article by Chanju Mwanza