Today is the anniversary date of what is often referred to (in Tennessee) as the Waffle House shooting. That is an accurate description as far as names go but one that has always felt too impersonal, because part of the loss of life in this shooting was personal to me. One of the people who was killed was my student, DeEbony Groves. She was a social work major and a student to me; more importantly, she was a daughter, a sister, a friend. She frequently ran late, she was a lover of Chick-fil-A, she was a hard worker, working 2 part time jobs while taking a full load of hours each semester. She made bold choices in hairstyles. She was generous with what she had. She believed in sisterhood. She had faith. She had amazing facial expressions and when she sat in the front row of class, you always knew exactly what she was thinking in terms of whatever was being discussed. I could tell you other things about her, but here’s the most important thing:
SHE SHOULD STILL BE HERE.
Her life, and the lives of three others, were cut short due to a senseless tragedy. Beyond the 4 people who were killed, there were others wounded and they along with others who still deal with the trauma of this event.
There are many ways you can honor and remember their loss and pain, across classroom and community settings. On the first anniversary, I had a “teach in” and students learned about public safety measures in their own states that were proposed to address gun violence. Whether you have in person discussions or virtual events or just point people to information and ask them to call or visit their decision makers…we have to do something.
Jason Reynolds is talking about racism in STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism and You when he says “we must be players on the field, on the court, in our classrooms and communities, trying to do right. Because it takes a whole hand—both hands—to grab hold of hatred. Not just a texting thumb and a scrolling index finger.” But, the same principle applies here (and heaven knows there are crossovers in the issues).
If you don’t know where to start in terms of information, here are some of my “go to” sites: Moms Demand Action (https://momsdemandaction.org/) and Every Town (https://everytownsupportfund.org/) and the APHA (https://www.apha.org/Topics-and-Issues/Gun-Violence)
And, De Ebony’s amazing, strong, resilient mother has created this foundation to serve and support others: http://deebonygrovesfoundation.org/ Check it out too.