OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland Tech sophomore class president Samuel Getachew, 15, wrote a poem about guns and racism, which he recited on Wednesday morning to cheers on the steps of his school during the March For Our lives protest.
It's title is "Arms" and the last, and arguably most powerful, line is "when did America fall so in love with the sound of gunshots that she wanted to hear them on her birthday?"
"It's a basic human right to be safe in school," Samuel said. "It's insane that we should have to question that. We have lost too many people not to have done something by now. And this seems to be a turning point. I want to be part of that. I want to be part of that. I want to be present when that happens."
By Samuel Getachew
After Philando Castile’s murderer was acquitted of all charges,
I thought a lot about how he told the officer he was licensed to carry a handgun.
About the calm in his voice,
About how he sounded a lot like he’d rehearsed this a dozen times that morning, just in case,
And I think about how I rehearsed this poem a dozen times this morning, just in case,
And I thought a lot about the 2nd Amendment,
How it doesn’t ever quite seem to apply to everyone,
How a black man with a gun is a threat,
But a white man with a gun is a patriot,
Or how a black child playing with a toy gun in a park is a thug,
But a white man with an AK-47 strapped to his belt in a grocery store is a patriot,
Or how a black woman firing a warning shot at her abuser is a danger to society,
But a white man with a gun showing up to the memorial of a victim of police brutality is a patriot,
Or how a black boy with some Skittles is “one of those assholes that always gets away.”
But a white man with a gun following a 17-year-old around in a gated community is still a patriot, still has the right to “Stand His Ground.”
And I think we too often forget that Trayvon Martin wasn’t killed by the police.
Just by a white man with a gun on neighborhood watch who fancied himself God for the evening,
Thought he’d decide who lived and who died that day.
And I find it fascinating,
How the right to bear arms comes second only to free speech,
But is 11 Amendments above outlawing slavery,
And I wonder when our priorities got so out of order,
Wonder how many bullets and bodies and street corner memorials it will take before we wake up.
And as I sat at home on the 4th of July and heard the sound for fireworks go on for hours,
I wondered to myself,
When did America fall so in love with the sound of gunshots,
That she wanted to hear them on her birthday?