generation Z protest
Credit: Lorie Shaull/flickr

There were crowds.

There were signs. Here’s one of my favorites:

There were speeches, like the ones from 11 year-old Naomi Wadler,

Yolanda Renee King,

And of course, the 6 minutes and 20 seconds that shook us to our core from Emma Gonzalez.

But now everyone has gone home. What’s next? First of all, there’s these kids that Michael Tallon calls “magic.”

Today has been a day of awakening for me, and I suppose it has been for many of my age-contemporaries, too. As a fifty-one year old man, I don’t cry much, but, wow, have I been a weepy mess all day today watching these magic kids. And that’s the term that keeps coming back to me: These kids are magic.

They somehow don’t seem real. They seem more like fully formed wizards who just popped into existence, as if the shooter who tore through their high school just showed up expecting sheep and found warrior-paladins instead.

But then it makes even less sense, because they aren’t just from Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. They are kids from everywhere. And they keep demanding that the media recognizes that they are from everywhere. These kids, these magic kids, keep saying to the interviewers, GO TALK TO THE OTHER KIDS. GO TALK TO THE BLACK KIDS. GO TALK TO THE POOR KIDS. GO TALK TO THE LATINO KIDS.

Then, as happened time and again today, when the cameras finally turn to the black kids and the Latino kids and the poor kids, THEY talk about other kids.

This isn’t a story about Parkland, Florida and a really smart AP class with great prospects. It’s about a full-on generation shift that caught me, and I’m guessing you, totally by surprise. These magic kids are from EVERYWHERE…

These kids grew up with the native ability to parse the OBVIOUS racism of Trayvon Martin’s murder, of Tamir Rice murder, of Philando Castile’s murder, of African American teenagers in McKinney, Texas getting the shit kicked out of them by police for being in a “white” neighborhood for a pool party. Just two days ago, they watched Stephon Clark get put down by over-amped, trigger-happy police while he was in his grandmother’s backyard. They can see with their own two eyes that our society is grossly unjust — and so when the camera focuses on David Hogg, we shouldn’t be surprised that this smart-dressed white boy says, TALK TO THE CHILDREN OF COLOR, as he did just yesterday in an interview with Axios. We shouldn’t be surprised when he says “Our parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.”

They’ve seen how badly we’ve screwed up a free society for their entire lives and they are, in their own beautiful way, “calling bullshit.”

The kids didn’t magically arise in a fortnight; their whole lives have been calling bullshit.

On the question of what comes next, they’ve already started.

In my local newspaper today, a group called “Listen to the Children” took out a full-page ad addressed to the entire Minnesota congressional delegation asking them each to answer two questions:

1. Would you introduce, cosponsor or vote for legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines for firearms?

2. Would you return any donation you have received from the NRA or any of its affiliates and would you refuse to accept any NRA donations going forward?

They promise to print the answers to these questions in the newspaper next week and warned that not answering will be considered a “no.”

Michael Skolnik nailed it.

When our children tell their story…they’ll tell the story of tonight.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.