Last Night, My 17 year old cousin was shot.
We were just finishing dinner when my husband’s phone rang. It seemed an odd time, and his face went from neutral to shocked almost immediately. His uncles are aging, so my thoughts went to them at first. He hung up quickly, and then asked me to turn up the television.
The news wasn’t good. His first cousin’s son had just been shot on a basketball court. What gripped us both is that his cousin is the same age as our oldest son, 17. He is about to enter his senior year. About to embark on a bright future. He had just taken his driver's test.
He was shot once in the chest and once in the leg. It was heartwarming to learn of the heroism of those nearby who witnessed the shooting, tackled, and held the assailant until law enforcement arrived.
He is not the only close relative of ours that has been shot. About ten years ago, another young cousin was shot at point blank range in his face. He survived and lives with those scars as a reminder of that awful encounter.
As I watch this historic moment taking place on the floor of the House, I am moved beyond words. I brought my children to be witnesses to history, and to encourage each of them to take some sort of action.
We called our representative from Georgia, Rep. Loudermilk, and asked him to take legislative action to address senseless gun violence and mass shootings. It seemed so small an act, in light of what just happened to our cousin. We are so fortunate that his injuries did not claim his life, that while the bullet missed his heart, the other bullet almost hit a major artery in his leg. He is recovering in stable condition.
My family is inspired to take action, to not be shamed into silence by the brush off of “black-on-black violence,” or by the profiling of “radical terrorists.” We are chastened by the horrors of Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Aurora, and all the other cities that have survived events of tragedy wrought by gun violence.
My kids are learning about the significance of gun violence in this country unfortunately in a personal way. My hope is that they can also witness the power of people who dare to challenge the status quo of do-nothingness. They can learn the power of nonviolent civil disobedience, that they can speak truth to power, and refuse to obey rules that are unjust.
Thank you Rep. Lewis and all the other Democrats who sat down so that we in America can stand up against gun violence.
Sarita McCoy Gregory, Ph.D. is a college professor, mother, partner, ally, and freshly minted blogger.