This guest post was written by Nooklyn Real Estate Agent Talya Chalef.
I was born and raised in South Africa during the bad old years of apartheid. Emergency drills in primary school involved hiding under our desk in case “bad people” were throwing stones, or walking to our track field in case of a bomb. I remember a policeman who came to teach us how to identify the different kinds of pipe bombs that could be placed under our desks. When riot drills and bomb threats become normalised, you know — mostly in hindsight — that you have lived through an absurd time.
I’ve lived in the US eight years now. And in that time, the absurdity of gun violence in mass shootings (over 300 school shootings since 2013 alone), is more than just absurd. It’s devastating and it’s criminal.
So it’s incredibly heartening to witness this younger generation tell everyone that “enough is enough”. And it’s more than inspiring to be a part of what feels like a tipping point in our culture.
On Saturday, I took part in the March for Our Lives in NYC. I was one of almost an estimated two hundred thousand who took to the streets in NYC alone to show their support for the cause. And the march in New York was just one of over 800 that occurred across the US and around the world. Listening to the chants of “This is what Democracy looks like” and reading the handmade signs made me feel hopeful. Hopeful that they will register to vote. Hopeful that they will sway politicians across the divide. Hopeful that they’ll see their actions manifest in real change. And hopeful that democracy can work after all.
In my teenage years, South Africa transitioned miraculously and peacefully from apartheid to democracy. My friends and I were a generation who witnessed significant change. And with that, we internalised that change is possible. I can only hope for the same with this generation.
Given I’m unable to vote here, I have this to say to those of you who can:
Keep moving forward. Keep the momentum going. Keep holding politicians accountable for their actions. Keep being strong. Keep up with what you believe in. And please, register to vote. And in November, change the status quo. There are so many reasons to protest at the moment given our current absurdity. But this one is a no brainer. No one should argue that guns are more important than lives.
All photos provided by author.