Your loved ones are dying.
Six months ago I concluded my article on the anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. shooting, “Remembering Parkland”, with the line, “I refuse to write from this same position next year.”
Now I write from the same position I longed not to take not a year later, but six months later. I write from the position of a mourner frustrated with the state of our union. El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are the latest to flash the headlines and will be the latest to be forgotten.
Your loved ones are dying.
America, I do not know how to convey the simple truth that your people have a responsibility to care for one another. Not all of your people are attending funerals. Not every one of your ethnicities is being accused of “invading” the country in a shooter’s manifesto.
But all of your people should care because, America, your loved ones are dying.
Many of your people pray but do no more. Praying is easy. Erasing hatred requires more. Changing legislation requires more. You must hold your people to the standard that lays at the feet of Lady Liberty.
Your people vote, not enough though. Few of your people raise their voices. Your people cease to remember the victims when their names are no longer solemnly stated on the news.
Your people need to believe their lives can be better because no other country has the mass shooting epidemic you have. Your people need to believe their lives can be better because it was not always this bad; hate crimes have risen for the third year in a row.
America, your loved ones are dying.
I have written to you before. I have pleaded for gun-control policy more times than I can count. I have given speeches and led walkouts attempting to rally you. I have repeated the same lines to the point that they have branded me.
“We cannot have military-grade weapons in the hands of civilians. We cannot let convicts and spouse-abusers carry arms. We need red-flag laws. We cannot let guns be bought without a thorough background check,” I cannot write this again.
America speaks many languages. Yet as a Hispanic, I fear the rhetoric of your people; my brothers and sisters in El Paso tremble at the sound of their mother tongue. Being in schools, churches, theaters and supermarkets are stressful events for your people. Now, we feel that even our immigrant pride must be kept in the shadows.
America, your loved ones are dying and while I often feel I cannot keep doing so, I will continue pleading with you every time more perish. Sadness and fury make clicking my keys more difficult. Your people cannot keep dying. Your people cannot keep living in fear. Your “silent majority” cannot keep turning their cheeks and enjoying their silence. You must stand for so much more.
Do better, because your loved ones are dying.
Follow Nico (@nico_reyes19) on Twitter.