Oregon, My Oregon

Did you know nine people were killed last week?

I hate that nine people died.

I hate that because he wasn’t black or brown they didn’t mention his race or assume his motive.

I hate that nine people died.

I hate that we know this routine, that it’s become routine.

I hate that nine people died.

I hate that this was the 45th school shooting this fucking year in this fucking country.

I hate that we can look at numbers like that and continue to think it’ll never happen to us, it couldn’t happen to us.

Not our school.

Not our city.

Not our state.

Did you know nine people were killed last week?

Our state song is called Oregon, My Oregon, and these problems are in Oregon, my Oregon.

And who’s to say they couldn’t be in Ithaca, my Ithaca.

Our school.

Our city.

Our state.

I hate that nine people died.

I hate that we know this routine, that it’s become routine.

I don’t want to be paranoid, but I refuse to be passive.

We react faster to our phones buzzing than to nine people dying in classrooms.

Hey Jeb Bush, stuff doesn’t just happen.

And if it does, well, it could happen less.

I’m talking gun control and mental health treatment and less male entitlement and less reinforcement of violence.

I’m talking less reinforcement of violence.

Did you know in Europe they almost never show violence on TV?

Did you know in Europe they almost never have school shootings?

Did you know in Roseburg, nine people were killed last week?

Did you know that in the first hour of the seemingly endless CNN coverage a reporter admitted that the media provokes copycat shootings?

Did you know that for the first hour of coverage Brooke on CNN couldn’t remember the name Roseburg? And why should she, since it might as well be Columbine or Red Lake or Marysville Pilchuck or Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook?

Did you know this has become routine?

45 shootings this fucking year.

In this fucking country.


I wrote and performed this poem for Spit That!, the spoken-word poetry club on campus, in response to the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon last week. 

 

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30 thoughts on “Oregon, My Oregon

  1. I sit here reading this in Thailand and I know two things–that this piece is PHENOMENAL (and you are completely 100% correct) and that a school shooting would NEVER happen in this country. I’ve been here for two weeks and I’ve spent a total of twelve hours in Thai classrooms…and I know this already.

    It’s hard to keep up with news over in the States here…mostly because I’ve been sooo busy practically since day one here and I don’t have time to read anything, really (which is quite a shame). I was aware that the shooting happened, but I wasn’t aware of all the details. And I certainly wasn’t aware that this was number 45 this year.

    You are absolutely right, Sabina–this is becoming routine. And that’s fucking scary .

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  2. I wish you didn’t write this. You did a great job and I agree 100% with what you say. You were able to express your hurt, anger and frustration in so few words. So it isn’t the words I wish you didn’t write. I wish you didn’t write this because I wish there was no reason, no 45 reasons, for you to write it. What is wrong with our country?

    On a side note – Talking about CNN, though, the last I saw they weren’t saying the shooter’s name. It’s a very, very small start, but if all news outlets did this hopefully there would be fewer copy cats.

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  3. Something has changed in this country. I don’t know when it started, but I do know that guns have existed long before these school shooting (and other shooting incidents) started occurring with startling regularity. I’m glad you didn’t make this post just about the guns. Certainly appropriate gun control is a part of the solution, but many of the laws on the books re. gun control aren’t enforced today. Let’s start there! How about we starting enforcing those good laws that exist for a reason. I do think it is about mental health in a HUGE way and absolutely about the sensationalism and attention that occurs when an event happens. Of course it’s news that nine people died. And it should be. BUT the media has to stop talking about the shooter!! They want the notoriety. And tools have to be given to parents who KNOW their kids have a problem. This was preventable in many ways, much more easily then attempting to get rid of guns. That will never happen so while we need to improve gun law enforcement we need to get going on many other fronts to tackle this huge issue. Also, be careful with statistics. My husband, who is an active 2nd Amendment rights advocate, has educated me on such stats and they are very often untrue or inflated. Not always, of course, but often. I think that is true of statistics in general for both sides of every issue so I’m always very wary of using them. As one example, a “school shooting” could be counted as such when a suicide of a non-student/non-faculty member with a gun occurs near campus. Not on campus, not in the school, not having anything to do with the students/teachers, etc. but within a certain radius of the school/campus. It’s a very complicated issue and my heart hurts as well, and I’m angry, but I have really been trying to hear what all sides have to say to attempt to see where the truth lies. It’s somewhere in the middle.

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    • It’s a complicated issue that definitely does go beyond gun control (although of course that is one important element). With this shooting, as another commenter mentioned above, the media haven’t been emphasizing his name, which helps with the notoriety factor. It appears now that the motive was more about a male entitlement to women issue, which is a problem in and of itself.

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      • Absolutely. I’m sure in every one of these situations the variables are different which is what makes it so challenging. You just wonder what makes a person want to “go there”?? How do they get to that point where they think killing and hurting others somehow solves their problems? Ugh.

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  4. Ditto on the outrage. It pulses off the page—as well it should. I hope many who heard you (and, now, read you) have been infected by it. It really does come down to saying *enough*.

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  5. And the one thing that all of these have in common? Guns. Guns are the common denominator. Not the whole problem by any stretch. Each shooting has different motivations and different sickness behind it. And those issues are important to examine and try to prevent and improve. But at the heart of it? We need better gun control. Why not a required gun safety class to get a permit? Why not a note from your doctor clearing your for owning a gun? (pilots have to be cleared to get their license) Why not a waiting period? Why not charge the irresponsible gun owners with a crime when their gun is used by their mentally unstable family member to commit a crime. Something HAS to change. To me, the most logical first step is sensible and effective gun control with enforcement.

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  6. I’m unhappy this event occurred. I am hoping though that since apparently Sandy Hook was enough, will we finally make changes now? Or will this be gone in the next big news story cycle until it comes up again, and then again… thanks for putting your voice out there

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  7. I remember a few years ago, I was teaching one of my first college classes, and I had a “no cell phone” policy. One of my students objected, asking me how he’d know if there is a shooter in the building. I remember, how shocked I was. Having grown up in Europe and done my undergrad there, I have to say the very last thing on my mind during my undergrad was whether a shooter would enter a building! I looked at cute guys, followed the lecture, thought about what food the cafeteria had.That an entire generation of young kids has this on their mind as a possibility when they are getting an education is killing me! Colleagues of mine don’t feel safe in the classrooms anymore, especially those in Texas with the concealed carry law. As somebody who chose to live in the US and have a family, it is especially heartbreaking. Thank you for your piece and for speaking out. It needs to be said. I may share it with your permission!

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  8. That is one strong poem, the impact of the spoken word would be another level.

    Is it just the school shootings though? I recently wrote a post where i counted a 110 people die in one fucking day, in the whole wide fucking world. There is something fundamentally wrong with us everywhere and what is worse is that the school children are far too small to be the victims of such a malevolent crime.

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