'Why is violence still happening?' / Maya Aristimuno
16-year-old Maya Aristimuno is the founder and CEO of MARISTI (www.maristi.com), a creative agency based in New York. Maya discovered her unique passion for the arts at a young age, which resulted in having her work featured in magazines (such as Vogue) and galleries. As the owner & founder of MARISTI, Maya looks forward to continuing showcasing other young artists' work, through growing the team, and starting ongoing projects like the Art Dept.'s MIM Magazine. She's ready to keep the creativity going! Below is her statement and photography documenting her high school walkout earlier this March.
"This is our time to stand up", say multiple students who are marching and protesting outside on a frigid March day in Montclair, NJ. In the United States, there is a very clear gun culture that has been happening since forever. Against this culture, the strong kids who are watching their peers being killed are standing up. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS,” Emma Gonzales, a student survivor of another tragic school shooting stood up and said. So why does violence still happen? As a girl who grew up in America, I know the answer. We all do. Gun violence still happens because of the LACK of control there is on purchasing and owning a gun. But nobody who has the power to do so is taking action to save our lives.
Kids should NOT be able to have guns. We need control and we need safety. A terrifying concept is that my friends and I are on edge while eating lunch in the cafeteria, sitting through an assembly, or even walking through the halls. School shootings are no surprise to us when they happen and like Emma Gonzales said, we call BS. We want to learn, not be afraid to go to class in fear of a classmate pulling out a gun. So the national walkout happened. Students all over the country called BS by walking out of their classes, out of school at 10 am, and stood outside for 17 mins - in honor and remembrance of students whose lives were lost at the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. In one word, students answered the question on how the walkout made them feel. Students described the walkout as, "resistance, solidarity, growth, necessary, and inspiring." Seems all great, students standing up, speaking their voice and questioning authority.
But a week later, another school shooting happened at a high school in Maryland. A boy just a year older than me went to school with a gun. This is not okay, and this is not acceptable. It seems like we're hopeless - but we're not. We need change and as young activists, we'll demand it - peacefully and powerfully.
(All images were taken by Maya during her school's walkout, all rights reserved)