Lockdowns are Nothing New

There were many very powerful moments in the March for Our Lives movements all over the country, but I was grateful for one in particular. The kids from Parkland who have spearheaded this movement have worked to be very inclusive, and other young people who have been the victims of violence in their community are speaking out with them. The movement is not limited to the mass school shootings like Parkland and Columbine, but is now talking about everyday violence in the inner cities of America.

I’m so glad this is being brought up because one aspect of this conversation that has been missing is this: School lockdowns are nothing new. They’re only new for a certain aspect of the population.

When I was teaching in East Oakland, we had multiple lockdowns every year I was teaching. We were supposed to have practice lockdowns and we may have practiced once or twice, but we really just had real ones.

I’ve taught fractions through lockdowns with armed people on campus. I’ve let kids urinate into the sink because it wasn’t safe to go to the bathroom in the hall, so we rigged up a blanket for privacy and I cleaned out the sink with bleach after. I’ve passed around my cell phone so that every child could call their mom and tell them that they were OK and make sure mom was OK too.

Lockdowns got so routine that I just started teaching through them because otherwise, the kids wouldn’t get an education.

I am so glad that the tide is turning regarding people supporting this movement against school shootings. The kids deserve our support. The kids in Parkland are leading the charge and I am deeply, profoundly grateful for them.

But I’m also very very glad that the conversation is opening up. And, as a country, I hope we ask ourselves some hard questions.

Why didn’t we care about this before? Was it not as shocking because they weren’t “mass” shootings? Or is it because the kids who were affected before were primarily black and brown, and low-income? Is it more acceptable when it’s kids in the ghetto being affected?

Let’s use our new awareness, and this momentum, to create change for ALL kids. We are justifiably outraged that our kids have to practice lockdowns in case of shootings. But please don’t forget… these lockdowns are nothing new.

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