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By Aina Marzia
About three years ago, El Paso was attacked. While we still heal from the loss and try to advocate for change, it is impossible to ignore our gun violence epidemic.
At just 13 years old I was forced to recognize this as a reality. I am 16 today, and nothing has changed. Our epidemic is constant. Over and over we are forced to relive mass shootings because there is a lack of accountability. We already know that there are causes for these problems, our gun laws for one. But the motive for this attack, and so many more, is prejudice and hate.
Many of these shootings have similar circumstances. It is almost always a white man, in his early 20s, using a deadly weapon. This pattern is prevalent in so many shootings; shouldn’t we realize that there is a problem?
Where does this hate come from? Online terrorist organizations and extremist websites channel ideas. These communities stick to horrifying ideas against innocent people. And sometimes it ends in the deaths of a targeted community as it did in 2019, like it did a few months ago in Buffalo, and so many more.
Where are these people developing these ideas? It has to be something they learned, something that was taught. That brings us to the problem in our systems. If we consider these events holistically and not stand alone, we’ll notice that hate is evident in so many systems in this country. Our justice systems. Our policing systems. And most recently our education systems.
Schools in Texas are subject to this the most. The lack of diversity education is obvious, and students need to learn about racism. Many may argue that this will make white kids feel bad about being white, but when we teach our history we also teach that there were people who were against racism, and believed in abolition.
Kids don’t need to stand on the side that their ancestors did decades ago. That is what’s most important, learning that America has been wrong in the past, and teaching these wrongs so we aren’t repeating it.
Texas faces legislation that will limit this type of education, Senate Bill 3 banned CRT (critical race theory) teachings in classrooms. Thankfully a few weeks ago, the Texas State Board of Education decided against calling slavery “involuntary relocation.”
We know we can teach the right things, but we also need to prevent the teaching and spread of information that will lead to hate-motivated attacks and advocate for supremacist ideas.
The assailant at the El Paso Walmart shooting was on an online platform that backed up biases against Latinx individuals. The aggressor at the Buffalo shooting aimed to kill minorities and was taken by content that incorrectly promoted the rhetoric that Muslims and Jews wanted to wipe out the white population by immigrating to Christian majority areas.
Americans need to realize when propaganda against minorities is being spread and debunk these myths and ideas about “foreign” people.
Hate is taught. Gun violence cannot be a deliberate force for racist aggression. We must as a global population limit these teachings so that we can coexist peacefully, limit this violence and aim to reach a state in which prejudice is rejected. And it starts in schools, where young kids develop their beliefs, ethics, and morals. Together through the promotion of diversity and tolerance, we can fight against xenophobia.
Aina Marzia is an independent journalist and student activist in El Paso.