By Kevin Lopez
I can’t imagine kids dying, I can’t imagine kids dying in a school, I can’t imagine sending your kid to school to never hear from them again. I can’t imagine being a parent in this world, with a baby formula shortage, a shooting in a grocery store, and now another shooting at an elementary school.
Where should I feel safe? How can I feel safe for my future kids? How can I keep living the same way knowing these kids look like my nieces and nephews? My community has been rocked. Others can empathize with those who feel this in their hearts, but for those of us who are in the Latino community, we see these kids in us, in our families, and in the kids we wish to hold in our arms one day.
Latinos are disproportionately affected by gun violence in the United States. Nearly 70,000 Latinos have been killed by guns from 1999 to 2020, but that study is incomplete since there is limited data collection on Latino deaths from firearms, so the number of deaths is not truly known. Read that study here.
I have a nephew who was just born into the world and I don’t feel a sense of joy for his future. I’m happy to have a new friend in my life, someone I want to take care of and love forever, but how can I look at him and tell him the world is full of opportunities and hope when he could be killed at school?
How can I tell him he’ll be safe when schools, stores, and graduation ceremonies are being attacked?
I live in fear for my family in Texas, where my beautiful niece is going to school and my 2-year-old nephew will be starting soon. I fear my 9-year-old nephew who loves playing video games with me will one day not be here to play Fortnite anymore because he was gunned down. I can’t imagine those ideas, yet I think of them everyday. Then I remember that there are people right now dealing with those scenarios.
I have family down south in Brownsville, Texas; my beautiful girlfriend lives two hours away from Uvalde. My community has been wounded. My community is in pain and my community is heartbroken. I feel so much sorrow seeing the faces of kids who must’ve been thinking of summer break, swimming in the pool, riding bikes, and parties with the family. Those Latino parties where Selena and Chalino Sanchez music is playing in the background. Those Latino parties with laughter and kids running around. These families will never be the same again. These parents will have overwhelming grief for the rest of their lives.
The Latino community has lost hope and I begin to feel no safety. Thoughts and prayers are a nice gesture, but we need to see changes being made. Changes have to be made. I can’t imagine it.