Hedreich Nichols

Warning Shots

No matter what you think about the most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, two things are true: 

1. The shooter felt like an outsider. 

2. In his despair, he began to blame others for his misery and took action against them. 

This goes deeper than hate or racism. 

How do people walk among us and feel such misery, the kind that inspires acts of rage against random, unsuspecting people? I don’t have a study to cite, but I believe that we all contribute. The question is what?

 I am not saying the blame for a shooters actions lie at our feet. I am, however, suggesting that when we turn away from “playground shenanigans” to “let boys be boys” or when we look away when students draw circles around their friends and work to exclude others, our unwillingness to build a more inclusive climate in our schools may sow seeds. 

No, of course every student sitting alone in the cafeteria is not going to grow up to become a mass shooter. However, according to studies cited in this NYT article, anger, isolation and resentment are the common thread linking mass shooters and domestic terrorists. 

Once again, I am not laying the blame at the feet of educators, there is enough of that happening already. I simply want to call on the group of people who I innately believe, as a whole, have the best interest of students at heart, to intentionally build a culture of inclusivity on campuses. No kid should eat alone. No kid should be consistently chosen last for the team. No kid should be left out of group work when students choose. That means you teach your students how to include because there is humanity in including others. It means, you become more inclusive at school with other teachers, at home with others in your community. It means you draw bigger circles around your ‘usses’.

Being more inclusive may not stop the next act of violence against any community, but it will make the ground for these acts less fertile. That’s an outcome we all need.

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