Walking distance from MEDA’s Plaza Adelante neighborhood center in San Francisco’s Mission District is César Chávez Elementary School, part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood education initiative for which our organization serves as backbone agency. A large-scale mural of the iconic civil rights leader graces the wall backing the playground, seemingly protecting the exuberant students below. That idyllic vision was shattered yesterday by the senseless murder of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers. Though that incident took place 1,700 miles away in Uvalde, Texas, it hits close to home. The surnames of the deceased reflect those of MEDA staff and the community in which we serve. López. Mireles. García.
Parents send their kids to school thinking they will be sharpening their pencils – not their duck-and-cover skills. The classrooms of Uvalde’s Robb Elementary comprise 90% Latino students, with the vast majority from low-income immigrant families seeking opportunity for their children – just like at our César Chávez Elementary School.
Such violence is endemic in our nation, and we would be remiss by failing to acknowledge the recent killing sprees of African Americans in Buffalo, N.Y. and Asian Americans in Laguna Woods, Calif. Are we really OK as a nation with the fact that we cannot send off our loved ones to study, shop or worship without knowing they will safely return home? What in our culture spurs a community member celebrating their 18th birthday to decide the way to mark that occasion is by purchasing assault rifles to engage in mass murder?
We would also be remiss to not acknowledge that May 25 marks the two-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement tasked with protecting their communities. That sad day showcased yet another symptom of the systemic inequities and violence that daily plague or society.
MEDA vows to advocate locally, statewide and nationally for policies that strengthen our communities rather than make their name be added to the litany of places where abhorrent gun violence has occurred. We need you by our side to make these changes. Here are three things you can do now to take action:
- Tell all candidates for office you want them to support sensible gun laws;
- Contact your current representatives with that ask, and;
- Use your power as a citizen to vote.
With yesterday’s needless death of two educators and 19 schoolchildren, it cannot be denied that our nation’s future is literally at stake.