It has been super difficult to simultaneously work on happy, cheerful art and stories for children… when yet another school shooting takes their lives… and nothing in this country changes. The dilemma is that I try to keep my deep emotions separate from the person I present to everyone. My paintings and artwork tend to be jolly and upbeat, but I am a sensitive person. I feel things deeply. I am a mom to a school-aged child, a former teacher, current children’s book author-illustrator… and unfortunately I’m also a gun violence survivor. If you know me personally, you already know the circumstances. How can I show up when I feel heartbroken inside?
The label ‘gun violence survivor’ empowers just as much as it disempowers. The reason you are a survivor is nearly always out of your control. A person you knew (or didn't) decided to use a gun to hurt people you loved, knew, or were randomly nearby. And that feeling of being powerless is terrible, awful and very frustrating.
So, I am struggling with how to stay true to the inherent promise I make to you, my readers and friends and family, while also expressing my extreme distress concerning the recent school shootings.
I'm a fan of turning big feelings into positive action. If preventing gun violence is something you feel strongly about as I do, there are organizations out there that have been trying to help keep people safe from gun violence for years…
- Sandy Hook Promise lobbies for laws on background checks, national database expansions, and school shooting prevention.
- Everytown for Gun Safety trying to close loopholes on existing laws around gun ownership, assists victims of gun violence with legal help, and lobbies for public safety measures that curb gun violence.
- Social Justice Sewing Academy Remembrance Project creates quilts of remembrance for families to remember victims of violence
And many other organizations exist around solving the issue of gun violence.
I don't believe we are so powerless to change as a nation. How many more people will be lost to gun violence until things finally change?