For almost six minutes on March 24th, Emma Gonzales stood straight and strong at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. Her decision to remain silent proved to be a powerful message to the world. In her silence, millions across the globe were able to feel the agony that her and fellow students at Stoneman Douglas High School felt as they waited at the mercy of a school shooter. As Gonzales stood strong and silent, the audience watching could see tears fall down her cheeks, the pain still raw from the shooting that took seventeen of her classmates in February 2018.
Since Gonzales decided to join her fellow survivors as the #NeverAgain movement, she has become the visual figurehead for pro-NRA scapegoating. Since calling “B.S.” on gun advocates and lawmakers, she (along with other members of #NeverAgain) has received death threats. Adults have thrown public insults from right-wing television programs. A Maine politician resigned from his campaign after receiving backlash for calling Gonzales a “skinhead lesbian.” Yet, despite this hatred, Gonzales continues to spread the message of gun control and continues to encourage young people to show up at the polls.
Emma Gonzales and her resolve and persistence have not been able to end the voices of adults across social media. Each day, a new post or meme is shared that attempts to discredit her and the other teenagers leading the #NeverAgain movement. Blatantly photoshopped images of Gonzales ripping up the constitution have circulated at a massive rate, as those that support her rush to spread the truth. She has been called a “crisis actor” and a fraud. There are many adults that have become so used to dumb teenagers that eat Tide pods, that they are unable to process that smart teenagers still exist. Spoiler Alert: They do. And they are at the gates of the White House.
The truth is that Emma Gonzales and her peers from Parkland, Florida are not typical teenagers. They did not receive the underpaid and unappreciated public education that millions of students across America receive. These particular students are in AP classes, and have been trained in speech and debate techniques since elementary school. Their teachers have prepared them to fight. They have been prepped to become leaders of this country. That they happened to be at the center of the most recent large-scale school shooting is a matter of coincidence. This coincidence might just change the world.