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Ysanel Torres: Every second, every moment, every breath: They mean everything….



There’s this thing about time that I’ll never understand
The way it never ends even when it does.
Every second
Every moment
Every breath
They mean everything.
16 years of living and I still don’t like to let my brother walk home from school.
My mother has been experiencing PTSD since the day we heard gunshots right outside of her salon on Elmwood Avenue
Hair rollers were still installed when we rushed through the doors to find the neighboring restaurant owners comforting their bleeding son who laid on the pavement, victim of a sudden driveby
There were more witnesses than there was help, I could never erase the picture of it and it hurts
We’re living in the smallest state in America where you still have to worry about mass shootings because our state is one of four that allows people to carry concealed weapons inside of K-12 schools.
I want to have kids one day,
yet I’m afraid
The majority of the today’s young women are afraid to have children
We are TIRED of scrolling past pictures of our dead brothers
This is not a “random post,” this IS normalization
And these disgusting gun-laws are not coincidence, this IS dehumanization
And the ways in which they portray us is not coincidence, this IS dehumanization

We’ve learned to love through the lack of love, and we remember our fallen family and friends like tattoos on our sleeves. Through all sorts of expression and creativity, we honor people like William who met the bloody concrete of Providence streets before he went to college
And we remember his shooter, too, who so easily obtained the gun at a young age.
Today I want to especially honor my close friend Jesse
Who was taken from us right inside of his home during a robbery on cold January night.
He saw only a few days of 2019 but he felt the future before his death.
He saw his daughters grow into strong, confident young girls, and as he was their father, mother and friend, he saw them growing alongside him.
The only thing he didn’t see was probably greater than us all.
The only thing he couldn’t see was the end.

I ask that we engage and participate in the change,
I ask that we educate ourselves and become more aware, so that we can strengthen our battle
I ask that we individually pioneer the change in our homes and our workplaces and creative spaces
Most importantly I ask that we never forget our fallen brothers and sisters, we cannot let them fade. They must live forever through our work and appreciation for their lives.

Ysanel Torres read the above at a Safe Schools Act rally held at the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday. Pro-gun activists loudly chanted and yelled throughout her presentation, preventing the majority of attendees from hearing her words. Torres kindly gave UpriseRI permission to print her words here.