May 25, 2022 at 10:07 a.m.
Thoughts on the heartbreaking events in Uvalde, Texas
Dear CSSW Community,
It was Nelson Mandela who stated that, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
And we are failing.
Yesterday’s tragedy in Uvalde, TX, added to the list of unnecessary and avoidable mass shootings in our country – even while we are still reeling from the murders in Buffalo, NY. It is sickening. There are some who will have us believe that arguing for stricter gun laws or safe spaces for our most vulnerable is a political issue. This is a distraction. Living, and being able to feel safe, are not political. Our humanity is not political. It is not political for the parents who are anxiously waiting to hear whether their child was one of the 19 murdered. It is not political to think about the spaces that will need to be created to hold the grief (and perhaps guilt) of those who have survived. There is nothing political about the miracles social workers will be expected to perform in this moment to heal this community. And if we are not careful, the lives that were lost yesterday will quickly be rolled up in partisan politics that get in the way of real progress.
Our outrage is being compounded. In moments like this, I’m reminded that artists and creatives are the ones who invite us to hold the mirror up to ourselves in penetrating ways. So I leave you with a poem by Langston Hughes: Kids Who Die. Credit goes to artist and contemporary poet, Aja Monet, for re-introducing this poem at this moment.
Kids Who Die by Langston Hughes
This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.
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