When Racism and School Shooting Threat Hits Close to Home


My brain and heart are heavy and dark and jumbled and sad and angry, and I’m at a complete loss of how to handle it. And they’ve been that way for a minute now…

This post is so very long overdue (sorry boss lady), because normally, when I have an idea – no matter how vague it may be – things swirl in my brain: ideas, concepts, phrases, whatever – there’s something. But with this, it’s just empty.

Well, wait. It’s not empty. It’s full of storms.

When Racism and School Shooting Threat Hits Close to Home | Columbia Mom

See, back at the very beginning of August, we learned that a student at one of my daughter’s schools had made a disgusting, racist video and threatened to shoot up her school.

What do you even do with that?

I mean, really – how do you wrap your head around it?

Mass shootings are horrifying; school shootings are devastating, even when these tragedies happen far away. And to know that this little school in this little corner of our little town was targeted by one of its own students? Because he hates black people? Y’all.

How is this even still a thing?

Oh – and his little sisters are friends with both my girls. So we know the family. Not well – but well enough to arrange hang-outs and sort out rides to and from various events. That’s an interesting twist, isn’t it?

I was sitting in the gym on the Back to School Night and almost couldn’t breathe, thinking, “what if?” What if he’d really gone through with it? What if there’s someone else with the same plan? What if it’s not at this school, but when they’re in college? What if things continue to get worse?

What if? What if? What if?

The questions just don’t stop. Are my husband and I doing enough to ensure our girls protect and fight for the equality of everyone? Have we ever given them the impression – intentionally or unintentionally – that it’s OK to think less of someone just because of the way they look? How do we become part of meaningful change and not just come at it from our privileged and safe place?

How do we encourage our girls to love their friends – because they’re suffering too and didn’t ask for any of the backlash he brought to them – while the scaredy cat in me just wants to take a giant step back?

Twenty guns were seized from the kid’s house. Twenty. I get that we have the constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves and hunt. I get it. But twenty? Including a semi-automatic rifle? Seems like too many. How can we affect change there, too, without going too extreme on either side?

It is appalling that our kids regularly have active shooter drills and lockdown drills. That a fire drill makes them wonder if they’re going to get shot.

And will the political environment in our country ever become one where we can have civil and meaningful and intentional conversations about these crucial and often-painful things?

How do we be the change we want to see in the world? How do we teach our kids to be that change? And how do we keep them safe?

We are absolutely failing our kids on so many levels and we have to do better. We simply must. And I don’t see that happening any time soon. And that leaves my brain – and especially my heart – heavy and dark and sad.

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Wildly in love with her perfectly imperfect life, Kathy’s been married to her most favorite person in the world, “The Professor,” for 14 years. They moved to Columbia from Atlanta seven years ago and are enjoying raising their two girls, Gracie (12½) and Tate (10) here. After undergrad and her MBA, Kathy worked in Corporate America for 10 years before retiring to work full-time for the girls. Most recently, she was a grant writer at a college here in town, but had to leave that job when her family moved to New Zealand for six months for The Professor’s sabbatical. She started her blog, kathygoeskiwi.com, to document that amazing adventure, but now she’s home and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Again. Probably the loudest and most foul-mouthed introvert you’ll ever meet, she can usually be found curled up with a trashy romance novel, on the tennis court, at her awesome gym, or drinking wine with people she loves.


  1. The author nailed it. Just this morning, I felt myself falling into that depth of despair as a parent while reading about the latest news of Atatiana Jefferson’s tragic death in Fort Worth. My heart has hurt so much for my alma mater and so many friends who have their children in school at CN. Thank you for sharing your stormy thoughts and I pray we find clear skies and balmy seas in our society’s future.


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