I’m a Black Man Who Nearly Committed a School Shooting

By:  H.T., Website:  Rogue Black Nerd

In 2001, I had hit one of many rock bottoms in my life.  This one differed not because of timing, but because by the end, I found myself locked in my middle school bathroom with a recently unloaded gun I had planned to use to shoot up my school, then middle school Riddle school for the performing arts.  What stopped me?  Simply the earnest kindness of my math teacher, a black man named Mr. Brown who saw I was clearly in a low place and cheered me up with encouragement and jokes.  The small act of kindness snapped me out of my daze of anger from my misguided rancor towards my mother and my peers and in time, I realized that violence wouldn’t solve the pain I was feeling and in ways still feel some days with life.

Now, I say all of this not to justify any or all school shootings, but to say that to solve this issue we really need to snap the movement to solve this social ill with logic, compassion and yes, a reasonable level of vigilance.  Let me first say that if schools really want to systematically erode the issue of young people going into schools and shooting their peers, we have to start by admitting that high school and just being a teenager in general is not the magical time that many kids’ parents like to pretend it is.  Even if you were a girl who grew up built like a porn star or a guy who looked like Tom Brady, the fact was you weren’t so much lucky as you were a bit cursed.  Sure, socializing was easier on some level, but in exchange for hitting your physical prime early, it was in a way almost like being a teenage superhero as you were a child with an innate ability that brought factors to your life that you still weren’t ready to fully comprehend, up to including puberty and a burgeoning sex drive with varying degrees of knowledge about sex itself, give or take who decided if or when you got sex-ed at all.

For the kind of kid who shoots up a school, I don’t want to say it’s only a white male problem, but if one was to ask why almost all school shooters are at least white if not male, one has to admit that part of what factors into this is that school administrators statistically are harsher on non-white and female students.  As the logic goes, boys will be boys, but the girls have to be followed around like a hawk and any black or brown student must get harsher punishments for actions that white students get lesser or no punishments.  There’s countless statistics backing this up, but speaking for myself I can tell you that then and even now white kids often do wild antics that at the very least should be looked at as signs the kid might need psychological help and are treated like they’re just wild and crazy kids.  Meanwhile, I and many other black kids who so much as mouthed off to a teacher often found ourselves getting suspended for weeks even.  I say all this not because I expect white people to solve this issue necessarily, but simply to give a level of perspective for you all.

Furthermore, when it comes to the issue of stopping shooters and mental health, I fully agree that at the very least schools should have some form of armed security, not necessarily to combat school shootings but to protect students from external threats as well.  But as far as dealing with troubled youth who go out and shoot up schools, there is one particular narrative I wish would die in a dumpster fire:  the belief that these young men committed these acts of violence because of sexual frustration.  Even if this is remotely true, please understand that should we normalize this idea that men who don’t get sex from women at any age are supposed to go out and kill innocent people is in many ways dangerous and rationalizes behavior that can only be described as a blue balled jihad.  This goes back to my disillusionment with the red pill ideology as if you read long enough, there really are men who attempt to bring logic if not justification to men who commit mass shootings as men who are lashing out at their low tier in social status with women.  While I agree to a degree with Mr. Gates that there is a noticeable pattern of funny looking white guys who commit these shootings, correlation does not equal causation.

The reality is that school shootings are the result of mental illness, poor gun safety on the adult’s part, and very toxic school environments that adults in power often pick and choose to properly police due to adults forgetting that bad behaviors not checked early and often may not always cause school shootings, but does create very awful acting adults.  I bring up my incident with nearly committing the same crime as Nikolas Cruz because on some level I get what drives a young man to resort to pointless violence, but still I do not justify it.  Instead I ask that we take a tiered approach in stopping more school shootings by getting them actual help rather than having to stop the problem before lives are endangered and any young man harms anyone else or himself.

But for the love of god, please stop pretending that this is a problem that students are necessarily responsible for stopping.  Yes, kids need to be better to their peers, but we also need to confront the potential shooters and not pretend that even if said act of violence is motivated by bullying, that we blame anyone, especially teen girls for this happening.  When we relegate this very serious issue down to sexual frustration when in reality it’s young men who need help and to not have people say their troubles all boils down to getting an orgasm, we keep the cycle going, either by example or by justification that women need to learn take one for the team in that men are taught entitlement in a grand scale.  This I believe endangers more people than it protects.

The fact of the matter is that while there’s very little one can do to cut down on bullying in the way we wish we could, the reality is that the one thing we can confront is that we often socialize young men less with opening up about their issues and more about resorting to violence to show the world they control their destiny.  This, without all the dogwhistle rhetoric, is the definition of toxic masculinity.  If anyone external is to blame for driving young men to shooting up schools or committing any acts of violence toward fellow students, it’s adults who collectively normalize young men being aggressive and set a standard of masculinity that few can fully attain at such a young age.  This, not a video game, not a movie, not a album but rather the perpetual idea of boys at 15 are expected to be the baddest dude in school, get all the girls, be built like a Greek god and never feel insecure about themselves.  If we truly want to combat this issue of young men feeling the need to commit acts of violence, we first must evolve how we raise men collectively to view themselves and that starts by looking at every adult around them and asking us all to admit that along with girls, we’ve raised boys with a damaging level of insecurity while making the grave mistake of also normalizing violence as both a coping mechanism and as a display of strength.  The fact is, what drives a school shooter varies.  They could feel insecure, they could feel like outcasts, they could be bullied, they could have legitimate mental illness that could require medication, therapy or even forced hospitalization.  But what ultimately drives said actions is the unmoving idea that as a man, you need to be prepared to use violence to control the collective narrative about you.  It’s why you see teen boys getting into MMA and (for the wrong reasons) getting into gun culture.  Because what they see more often is the tired narrative of the “alpha male” not being a “soy boy” and teaching them that being a man means proving dominance over other people, namely women.

When it comes to the issue of school shootings, there’s really no point in stopping it by attacking LEGAL gun owners when the reality is that there are far more kids with access to an ARSENAL of guns and never try to pull these things.  What it is is the socialization of the people, namely young men, that is the common denominator.  Even if they couldn’t get a gun, they could simply go make a bomb, get a knife and commit other acts of violence or even simply build a gun themselves.  But to ignore the pressing issue of young men on the whole being very mentally ill and not helped to be better by the adults in their lives ALONG with toxic male ideals for masculinity being pushed in society, the problem won’t end.  So in short, please, I beg of you, stop teaching your sons that they need to be the most popular guy in school, stop telling them to bottle up their emotions, stop telling them that they’re supposed to get the girl of their dreams just for being a “nice guy” and above all else, get them at the very least therapy if you think they’re mentally ill or just need a non-judgmental listening ear.  Because society is getting tired of living in fear of one of your sons feeling inadequate, being mentally unsound & then picking up a gun.

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