Oh, America the...Saga. On Valentine’s Day, a recently expelled 19-year-old, Nikolas Cruz, fatally shot 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Florida. What is most unique and unfortunate about this particular shooting was the FBI received a tip prior to the incident about Cruz that stated concerns of “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
With an obvious mental health issue as the primary cause of this horrific act of violence so many systems failed not only Cruz but especially the innocent teenagers and faculty caught in his crossfire. My heart supremely aches for the parents and loved ones involved in this gruesome disaster. As a parent, it’s your worst nightmare, your greatest fear, and most dreaded announcement that your child was involved in a fatal tragedy. I have never been more aware of the pain and suffering in the world until I became a parent. Protecting my son from racism, violence, and the multitude of life’s pitfalls has never been a greater priority.
My soul burns to notice the double standards many Americans choose to ignore when tragedies like this happen (since we are now the country spending billions of dollars building a “wall” to keep the bad guys away). There are so many things wrong here. For starters, this was an act of domestic terrorism, as were so many similar incidences over the past decade. Yet our government refuses to label these mass shootings as such, specifically as it pertains to white assailants. The FBI had prior knowledge of Cruz’s mental instability and desire to become a “professional school shooter” and didn’t further investigate any of the allegations from the tip they received via a comment Cruz left under a YouTube video about guns using his own name. Black and brown men and women across the United States are considered menacing for wearing hoodies while holding candy or selling CDs, but a white kid can announce on a public platform his intent to kill others and authorities don’t bat an eyelash. Meanwhile, Nikolas Cruz is on YouTube… making America great again, by *literally* stating, "I whana shoot people with my AR-15.""I wanna die Fighting killing s**t ton of people.” / "I am going to kill law enforcement on day they go after the good people." NIKOLAS CRUZ OUTWARDLY THREATENED TO KILL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WENT TO PRISON ALIVE WITH TWO SCRATCHES ON HIS BODY. *MIC DROP*
The prejudices are imminent in America. The police had every single red flag they needed to take this kid in and either help him or contain him. He had pictures of guns and weapons and dead animals on his social media pages, he blatantly stated he wanted to be a “professional school shooter” on his YouTube channel, he was expelled from school because of behavioral problems, and STILL he was less threatening than a Black/brown boy with his hands in the air pleading not to be shot. Trump has Muslim bans against the “terrorists” overseas who, outside 9/11, haven’t done as much damage as these local "terrorists" have caused, i.e. Las Vegas massacre. The "killers" and "threats" are allegedly why we’re building a wall across our southwestern borders… how is it everyone with a little melanin is the problem?!
Unless a white madman shooter and kills himself, he usually remains unarmed and off to jail in one piece with a right to a “fair” trial. Where are the "bad apples" of law enforcement when we get calls about murderers like Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook shooting) or James Holmes (Aurora shooting)? Why do those men get to tell their tale and not Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin? The difference is two of those men were murderers and the other two men were Black, but guess which two are alive? Where are the officers that fear for their LIVES when they appeared in front of these actual armed killers? How do "All" Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter but somehow Black Lives don’t Matter?
Even larger than the color prejudices in America is a very concerning mental health issue. The sad truth is anyone willing to take an innocent life because of their personal turmoil has serious emotional/mental damage. These mental health issues need to be assessed and evaluated… on the regular and not just when they’re on trial for murder.
I am baffled that our country doesn’t take mental health seriously. Your brain is as vital an organ as your heart; do you not take cardiovascular ailments seriously? Mental health is not just the matter of someone killing students in a school or a people at a movie theater; it is also the matter of prematurely pulling a trigger on someone that hasn’t posed an actual threat. Take the case of Tamir Rice for example: it was a 12-year-old boy foolishly playing with a toy gun. One of the cops on arrival, Timothy Loehman, was actually deemed by his prior (policeman) job that he was an emotionally unstable recruit and unfit for duty but LIED on his job application and remained an officer. Could you imagine losing a loved one to a man that was deemed UNFIT to PROTECT and DEFEND you as those are the primary basis and terms of his job description?! Society has shunned the importance of mental health, more specifically for men and people of color. The root of the issue is we neglect the cries for help or deny the visible signs that someone should be treated not only for their safety but those around them.
Therapy is treated like an extra-curricular activity and not a necessity, I’ve noticed. People consider therapy either a health luxury (like a facial) or something to do when you’re trying to extend some form of short-term disability (post-partum, I know gals that have done it), or simply when someone is considered a crazy lunatic at their wit’s end. And only in the most crucial hazardous situations will mental evaluations be deemed a NECESSITY. Gauging from our president alone it is quite clear the importance of psychiatric counseling in America.
Once we begin to tackle the root of the problem may we begin to crush the second step: reform gun laws. How can "America the Great" and the NRA stick their chests out with pride that a 19-year-old boy, diagnosed with autism, (who also isn’t old enough to buy a beer...or better yet a wine cooler) legally purchased an AR-15 automatic weapon? It’s bad enough our country glamorizes and profits off of drug abuse, gangs, guns, and rape in entertainment, but we can’t even tighten the screws on actual flawed gun regulations and policies? And what are the excuses from the Red Team? “People will break the rules; people will steal bullets; kids will steal guns or buy off the black market.” - OK SUSAN, perhaps. But at least then it will be ILLEGAL. Criminals do criminal things, so why give them the permission or the power to meet them halfway to their crimes?
Let’s hope now that with the mass white on white crimes happening the GOP and Trump will do something (which he probably won’t, but a girl can dream) and pray for safer streets, schools, churches, street corners and movie theaters for our friends and family to walk on.
(Photo by Broward's Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)