Things That Matter

From School Shootings To Change: Here’s What’s Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida

It’s been over a year since the Valentines Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Despite the tragic loss of life during the shooting, there has been little progress in the U.S. to prevent more mass shootings. In fact, there were 304 shootings in the U.S. in all of 2018 killing 373 people and wounding 1347 people.

Politicians and the NRA have fought against gun measures that would preserve life moving forward. However, a handful of teenagers from Florida have led a charge that is changing the landscape of those in power and the fate of gun laws in the U.S.

Within days of the traumatic incident, students at Parkland spoke out in a way we haven’t seen before.

CREDIT: @bjoewolf / Twitter

During a time when school shootings have become the new normal, these students didn’t capture America’s attention simply because they were traumatized and horrified by the deaths of their classmates.

They called BS on “thoughts and prayers.” They were angry, and they had every right to be. Seventeen of their classmates died and politicians seemed eager to brush it under the rug.

People from around the United States flooded Washington in the days after the shooting in protest.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

What most people don’t know is that countless schools around the country held both planned and spontaneous walkouts. One week after the shooting, West Boca High School students spontaneously ran from the moment of silence and walked 12 miles to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in solidarity.

Emma Gonzalez emerged as the face of the gun reform movement.

CREDIT: @HillaryWarnedUs / Twitter

Her face has been wholly unwelcomed by the Trump administration. One Republican nominee even stooped so low as to call this teen survivor a homophobic slur. That hasn’t stopped her.

Her and other students formed a non-profit called “March for Our Lives” and their main goal is to get America to vote out legislators who receive donations from the NRA. Genioso.

Unfortunately, young people are still dying across the country.

CREDIT: FOX News

Just ten days after Parkland, a gunman opened fire on a young woman at Savannah State University. The victim, Kaleel Clarke, died.

Ten people died in a shooting at Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018.

CREDIT: @JosephSakran / Twitter

A 17-year-old opened fire using his father’s legally owned guns, along with explosive devices found at the school. Ten people died, and ten people were injured.

“I’m scared to even go back,” one student told ABC News. “It’s just not something that you should feel throughout the day, being scared. Especially somewhere where we say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

One 17-year old girl died at Huffman High School on March 7, 2018.

CREDIT: @GovernorKayIvey / Twitter

This was an “accidental shooting,” which is something students wouldn’t have to be afraid of if every school was a gun-free zone. Courtlin Arrington was a college-accepted senior who planned to become a nurse.

Central Michigan University shut down after a student fatally shot his mother and father in a dorm room on March 2, 2018.

CREDIT: @MooSquidSyd / Twitter

The students woke up to an announcement to find shelter and barricade doors until further notice. This is protocol. This is not normal.

On March 20, a student opened fire at Great Mills High School, Maryland, injuring one and killing another.

CREDIT: “PHOTO: Crime scene tape is used around Great Mills High School after a shooting on March 20, 2018, in Great Mills, Md.” Digital Image. ABC News. 16 August 2018.

The student, Austin Rollins, shot himself in the head when confronting a police officer. Jaelynn Willey died a week after the shooting. She had recently broken up with Rollins.

The father of two Parkland survivors was fatally shot during a robbery.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. NPR. 16 August 2018.

Ayub Ali owned a corner shop in North Lauderdale when a man held Ali at gunpoint while he emptied the register. He left with the money, but then mysteriously returned just to shoot Ali.

His family is once again struck with the grief of senseless, preventable violence.

Parkland survivors have taken to the White House to fight for their lives.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

A week after the shooting, Trump held a “listening session,” where Trump promised to pass laws for stricter background checks, and entertained the idea of arming teachers with guns.

Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a $400 million reform bill that includes a ban on bump stocks.

CREDIT: March For Our Lives

Their efforts are working. Included in the bill is a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases, and an increase in the purchasing age of rifles from 18 to 21 years old.

Far more action has been taken at a city level.

CREDIT: @Emma4Change / Twitter

Thanks to the Parkland survivors, Colombine survivors now have a new platform to speak up. School districts all over Florida have voted to ban teachers from carrying firearms in schools, in direct protest of Trump’s plan to arm teachers.

On a federal level, the Department of Justice is now considering a ban on bump stocks.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Meanwhile, the House passed a measure that trains students, teachers and law enforcement on how to detect threats of gun violence and how to go about reporting it.

March for Our Lives has published every legislator who has taken money from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and are holding them accountable.

CREDIT: @BillyCorben / Twitter

While the NRA received an increase in donations after the Parkland shooting, they are struggling now. It seems that they’re not able to buy out politicians quite as easily because voting Americans are paying attention.

In fact, the fallout from companies has been even more significant than from our government representatives.

CREDIT: @Shopify / Twitter

Shopify Inc., the online platform for hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world, has banned the sale of semi-automatic firearms (like AR-15s, bump stocks, and silencers) and 3D-printed guns.

“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast-moving internet,” CEO Tobi Lutke wrote in his own post.

Meanwhile, Delta lost a $38 million tax break for disassociating from the NRA.

CREDIT: @wilxTV / Twitter

In a memo to the company, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Balstian commented, “Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.”

The fact that companies are setting the moral precedent shows how broken our legislative system is.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Partisanship is dividing our country. Marco Rubio is one of the few Republicans to first speak out after the Parkland shooting in support of the students. That said, when asked point blank by a Parkland student if he would continue accepting money from the NRA, Rubio stood his ground. He will continue to accept money from the NRA.

This summer, March for Our Lives went on a “Road to Change,” ending in Newtown.

CREDIT: @Emma4Change / Twitter
Parkland survivors went on a bus tour to get as many young people educated and registered to vote this November. Until 2018, young voters were missing at the polls. This year, they’re leading the nation into a safer future.

READ: Students Staged A National Walk Out For Gun Reform On The 19th Anniversary Of The Columbine Shooting

Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

Entertainment

Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

intheheightsmovie / anthonyramosofficial / Instagram

The 92nd Academy Awards were filled with unexpected wins and losses. However, the red carpet was home to some of the most memorable moments of the night. One moment that really stood out was Anthony Ramos telling Ryan Seacrest one of the first bits of advice Lin-Manuel Miranda gave him.

Anthony Ramos dazzled on the red carpet at last night’s Academy Awards.

View this post on Instagram

Oscars.

A post shared by Anthony Ramos (@anthonyramosofficial) on

Ramos and his fiancée Jasmine Cephas Jones stunned on the red carpet with their looks. Ramos and Jones got engaged in December 2018 after knowing each other for three years as costars on the wildly successful “Hamilton.”

During his interview with Ryan Seacrest, Ramos recalled a touching moment he had with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Seacrest asked the rising star about his time spent working with Miranda and Ramos had a touching story ready to go.

“Lin told me a quote one time,” Ramos told Seacrest. “I cracked a joke and I was like, ‘Ah. That’s kind of hood. I should probably change the way I speak.’ Lin said, ‘Papa, you never need to change the way you speak. You just have to make sure that people understand you.’ I’ll never forget that quote.”

Ramos added about the authenticity Miranda draws from him: “Just be honest. Just be who you are and be honest and he just kind of let me do my thing on set.”

The advice is something so many people of color can relate to and appreciate.

Credit: @XxNess_ / Twitter

Whether it is sounding hood like Ramos said or speaking with an accent, our voices have been made to feel less than. Miranda’s advice is something so many people could have used when they were younger. There is nothing more empowering than owning every part of your identity and your voice and accent are part of that. There is nothing wrong with sounding like your background as long as you make sure everyone else can understand you and who you are.

The moment is reminding fans how much they care for Ramos’s and Miranda’s relationship.

Credit: Mali Worrad / YouTube

A quick search on the Internet will show you the kind of friendly love between the two entertainers. Miranda has spent time in his own career to uplift the upcoming actor. During the awards ceremony, Miranda called Ramos a movie star giving a nod to the highly anticipated performance by Ramos in the upcoming “In The Heights” film.

Who else is excited to see this bromance grow this year?

Credit: anthonyramosofficial / Instagram

It is these kinds of those friendships that we want more of. Thank you for showing off that Latin excellence while uplifting each other. That’s the kind of energy we need to take into 2020.

READ: Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Entertainment

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Columbia / Instagram

As the youngest in five, I rarely had the chance to travel alone.

How could I? With a paranoid mom and a closed-off dad, it was hard to ask for permission to venture out on my own. Sure, I had traveled a lot including abroad but I was either always with a family member or close friends. One year, my friend Sandra and I ventured throughout Mexico — a country I had never discovered on my own. When I was younger, I mostly stayed in the state of Nayarit because that’s where my family is from. So I never had a reason, or the courage, to learn more about the surrounding states in Mexico.

That was until my friend Sandra introduced me to a magical city, right in the center of the country.

queretaromex / Instagram

She had studied in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of her study-abroad program in college. I felt a little ashamed that someone like me — a proud Mexican Latina — had never been there, let alone any other state outside of Nayarit.

She took me there years later when I was 25 and fell in love with this incredible historic city — and sequentially someone else too.

ready4trips / Instagram

One night — at a club — I saw a man, unlike anyone I had ever seen before.

Think of a Mexican version of John F. Kennedy Jr. He was dapper, preppy, and totally hot.

Giphy.com

Completely out of my league too — or so I thought.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, but the following night we returned to that same club and there he was, but this time at the table next to ours.

“Scarface” / Giphy.com

I coyly started dancing with him because why not? We ended up dancing the entire night together and I felt like I was literally floating.

Being there, in Queretaro, among local Mexicanos, listening to their music — unfiltered and unAmericanized, I had never felt that alive in my life.

qbarlounge / Instagram

This is when I discovered so much incredible Latin music like FobiaCafe Tacuba and Shakira.

I should rephrase that. I discovered Spanish-speaking Shakira years after she had released her 1998 album “Dónde Están los Ladrones?”

The album catapulted her into a Latin superstar and I was in awe of her rocker chick vibe.

shakixfan / Instagram

While I loved my individuality as an alternative Chicana, I sure didn’t embody the independent woman I longed to be.

Even though I expressed a love for Spanish rock music, I was in a lot of ways very shy.

DaddyIssues / Instagram

But Shakira’s album made me feel different.

The song that truly moved me on that album is called “Si te vas.”

At first listen the song comes off as a ballad but it’s much more of a painful rock song that happens to be about a loss of love — as most songs are.

However, in this track, Shakira’s angst is infused throughout it just by the way she vocalizes certain aspects of the words.

shakixfan / Instagram

But this is my favorite part:

“Si te vas si te vas si te marchas

Mi cielo se hará gris

Si te vas si te vas ya no tienes

Que venir por mi

Si te vas si te vas y me cambias

Por esa bruja pedazo de cuero

No vuelvas nunca mas, ya no estaré aquí.”

But back to my imaginary love story. His name was Antonio.

Giphy.com

And he was an architect that lived in Queretaro. I was infatuated, to say the least. After our night of dancing, we went on a couple of dates, and one, in particular, that is too steamy to get into.

Soon after I returned to California soon after still on cloud nine.

Youtube.com / Giphy.com

But that’s all it took.

I really thought I was in love with this Mexican heartthrob.

sova02 / Instagram

When I returned to my real life, Antonio and I kept in touch.

We emailed, talked on the phone, and in my head, I was already scheming about how to go back to see him.

ABC / GIphy.com

I didn’t know how I would go back to Queretaro, but I knew that I had to. What I felt for Antonio was undeniable and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

I didn’t tell anyone about my plan.

ptrzykd / Giphy.com

I would just sit in my room — yes, I was a 26-year-old that still lived at home — and listened to Shakira’s album and think about Antonio.

One day it hit me. I would save money, enough for three months’ worth of rent, and move to Queretaro.

CW / Giphy.com

I talked to my parents about it and simply said: “I need to get away and just write.”

My parents didn’t fight with me over the plan.

Giphy.com

I secretly think they just wanted me out of the house. And so I saved, and saved, and saved, every penny I could get my hands on. When I finally had enough, I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City. I don’t even remember being scared.

I just remember having a direct plan and listening to my Shakira playlist.

@trulysocial / Instagram

It didn’t feel like I was alone either. When you’re traveling alone and listening to music, it’s like your famous friends are there right there with you.

I stayed at the most picturesque house in Queretaro and didn’t even tell Antonio that I was coming to town.

Tumblr

Yes, that was probably a mistake, but I didn’t care to hear anything negative. I guess underneath I knew what I was doing was kind of nuts, but love makes you do crazy things. When I did tell Antonio that I was in town, he said what I was dreading:

“You didn’t come here for me, did you?” he said.

“No! Of course, not. I came to write,” I said quickly.

“Oh, that’s good, because I have a girlfriend,” he said.

I think at that moment my body went numb because I don’t remember feeling sad or angry, just kind of in shock.

“How long have you been with her?” I said. I should note that it had only been a few months since I had last seen him.

“Always,” he said. “I’ve always been with her.”

The next couple of hours were a daze, but I cried myself to sleep that night. Here I was in Queretaro, all alone, and three more months to go. The next morning, I got up early, turned on my Shakira playlist and went for a run.

Credit: Araceli Cruz

Even though I was sad about the fact that Antonio had a girlfriend the entire time we were together, I realized how special it was that I was in this amazing city.

For the next three months, I did write.

I wrote a lot in fact, and I also met someone else.

Identity / Giphy.com

That relationship didn’t go beyond my time in Queretaro, but I loved knowing that heartbreak would not be the end of me.

The joy of being alone in Queretaro and doing exactly what I had envisioned all on my own was all I needed.

qrobici / Instagram

Even now when I listen to “Si te vas” I never feel sad about Antonio, just pure happiness that I did something pretty extraordinary and have memories that will last me a lifetime.