The first major mass shooting I can remember (as an adult, anyway) was Aurora. I’d been at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, too, and after watching the gory, heartbreaking details come out of Colorado all day, I went home and cried. It could’ve just as easily been me.
The first Black Lives Matter-adjacent moment I can remember was Trayvon Martin’s murder. I read every horrifying detail. I watched the trial. I wanted George Zimmerman to rot in prison forever. And when he didn’t, I felt sick to my stomach.
Over time, both events—mass shootings and senseless black slayings—stopped being surprising. They happened so frequently that they started to feel like the fabric of life in this country. The murder of innocent people was as American as watching the Super Bowl or eating too much at Chili’s.
The first Black Lives Matter moment to shock me back to reality was Michael Brown’s murder. That’s when the marches started. There was one just down the street from my apartment, and—as a civil rights supporter and curious historian—I stopped by for a look.
The first major mass shooting to shock me back to reality was Orlando. I’d been at Boston’s Pride Parade earlier that day, surrounded by love and acceptance and a general sense that humans can be pretty great. The next morning, I found out that 49 of those same lovely humans had been callously murdered at a gay club, and I cried. It could’ve just as easily been me.
Last week, my hometown became the hot zone. A peaceful protest for Black Lives Matter—where black, brown, and white were standing together harmoniously, as people—turned deadly when a psycho showed up with a vendetta and a gun.
I have been crying for Dallas since I first heard the news. I could’ve been there, caught in the crossfire. Protected by one of the cops who was eventually killed. It could’ve just as easily been me.
I don’t know what to think anymore. I don’t want to feel unsafe in large crowds, in my workplace, in my grocery store…but sometimes I do. And I don’t want anyone to become desensitized to the murder of innocent people. America is one of the most progressive countries in the world. Why are we continuing to live and die like this?
I want the hate and the racism and the violence to stop. I want black Americans to feel the same comfort I do when a law enforcement officer approaches. I want to hear about issues that matter—like healthcare and national security—not ugly generalizations about Muslims and Mexicans. I want common sense gun laws that keep weapons for hunting animals with law-abiding citizens and weapons for hunting people with the police and the military. But most of all, I want to remove myself from this offensive and dangerous moment in history. I want to hit the reset button.