In the fall of ’89, I was 13 and just starting my first day of school at St. Mary’s High School.
It was a strange, tumultuous time for the whole family, with my dad and stepmother having just lost their son and their best friend, as well as the school’s first African American student to die in school shootings.
I remember thinking to myself, I’m going to be the one who has to tell my mom and dad what happened.
And I didn’t know what to say.
My dad had been shot, and I had never seen him act this way before.
When I first went to the school, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell them because I didn: I thought it was weird that I would have to tell their best friends about something so personal and traumatic.
And then I realized that I had no idea what to tell the whole world.
I just kept asking myself, Is this really happening?
And when I asked my mom about it, she said, “Don’t worry, I’ve never had to deal with something like this before.”
The day after the shooting, my mom went to a memorial for her friend, and the next day she called me, crying.
“It’s not fair that we’re dealing with this right now,” she told me.
“I’m going through a tough time right now.”
So, the next morning, I got to the hospital, and when I came out, I saw that my dad had died from his injuries.
I was devastated.
And that’s when I realized I was in a world where people didn’t really understand what happened to my dad.
They didn’t understand the fact that he had to go through this because he was a person of color and because he had a gun.
My mom cried when she saw me and said, I didn