Resonate – Feature: Chinese Progressive Association Youth MOJO Members Join School Walkout Against Gun Violence

Group photo of Chinese Progressive Association MOJO members

Yesterday, Chinese Progressive Association Youth MOJO (Youth Movement of Justice and Organizing) leaders joined nearly 200 other high school youth in the Bay Area in front of San Francisco City Hall to speak out against violence. As part of a larger nationwide effort to protest our leaders’ failure to pass laws that protect us from gun violence, students turned out from Washington, Lincoln, Lowell, Galileo, June Jordan, and many more high schools.

20 April marks the anniversary of the Columbine High School Shooting nearly 20 years ago. Since the Columbine shooting, schools nationwide have increasingly militarized their campuses with more security guards and police officers while also increasingly punishing their students with suspensions and expulsions. Most recently, the Trump administration has made a horrific suggestion to arm teachers in schools.

CPA youth turned out yesterday because we know that more security does not equal more safety. Although we have more school security on campuses than ever before, we’ve had 200 school shootings since the Columbine massacre. Moreover, this increase in security and policing has disproportionately criminalized young students of color. The government’s advocacy for more weapons in our schools is identical to the historic and systemic violence inflicted upon all of our communities, from police brutality in black communities to the Muslim Ban to ICE attacks on immigrant communities of color.

Group photo of Chinese Progressive Association MOJO members

The immigrant Asian American youth we work with at CPA do not want to harden our schools with security and law enforcement. Seven children die from gun violence every day, and in 2016 the rate of gun-related deaths is six times higher for children of color- that includes Asian Pacific Islander youth, our immigrant youth.

These attempts to use more violence to control violence have failed and will continue to fail if we do not ask ourselves why individuals feel the need to shoot in the first place. On the one hand, while many gun shooters may in fact be mentally ill, using their alleged mental illness as the sole motive for their rampage stigmatizes the millions of people who are mentally ill and not violent.

In order to address the root cause of gun violence, we must begin to address one underlying trend across these mass murders from Las Vegas, to Sutherland Springs, to San Bernardino, to Sandy Hook, to Pulse, to Virginia Tech: all of these shooters were white cis-men with a propensity for white supremacist and toxic masculine violence and anger.

This trend is a direct result of the unhealthy society we live in — instead of raising men to be their whole selves, we raise boys and men to accept violence as a part of their behaviors, and teach men to not only repress their feelings (‘boys don’t cry’), but to then exert their anger onto women, immigrant, communities of color, and queer and trans folk.

As an adult ally, we are here to stand with our youth leaders to say we will stand for our youth’s lives, NOT profit, we want teachers NOT guards. We want schools NOT prisons. We demand not only gun restrictions, but to also stop investing in cops, guards, and patrols and instead invest money towards more relevant mental health resources for youth of color like funding for counselors, social workers, teachers, restorative justice services in our schools and communities.

Our participation during this #NationalSchoolWalkout is part of CPA’s larger campaign efforts this year to fight for happy, healthy, and thriving communities, from gathering petition signatures for the California Local Schools and Communities First campaign to MOJO leadership’s initiative to ensure we win more relevant mental health resources for youth of color.

We want solutions that will work to PREVENT gun shootings from ever happening again, instead of intervening when it is too late. This means we must invest in support and services to create genuinely safe schools and communities where all people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or citizenship feel welcomed, safe and supported.

“For so many students, including myself, school is a safe haven when we’re dealing with problems at home or in our lives. I’m standing in solidarity with students around the country yesterday because students deserve the right to feel and be safe in schools and communities. Instead of more weapons, we need more systems of support.” says Lisa Lai, MOJO Core Leader.

#CounselorsNotCops #NoCopsNoGuns #TrustStudentVision #EnoughIsEnough

Chinese Progressive Association is a nonprofit that educates, organizes and empowers the low income and working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people.

Youth MOJO (Movement of Justice and Organizing) is the youth program of CPA that develops the leadership of high school youth in San Francisco, with a focus on low-income Asian American youth and organize grassroots campaigns that affect youth, low-income residents and people of color. We work to develop and strengthen leadership, communication, advocacy, organizing skills, and instill in our leaders a commitment to participate in the political process and broader movements for social change.

by Lai Wa Wu