I decided to write about how mass shootings are tearing families apart because over the past few weeks there have been so many mass shootings around our country putting families in a state of grief and re-traumatizing us.
The reason I can relate to the pain these families are feeling is because in 2019, a mass shooter opened fire in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, claiming the lives of nine people.
One of those people was my father, Derrick Fudge, who died in my arms that night.
I understand the pain and grief that each one of these families are experiencing from losing a loved one. Because it never gets easy—it just becomes bearable. And when these events keep occurring, it takes each survivor back to the day, the moment, of their tragedy.
As a survivor, I got tired of seeing these countless acts of domestic terrorism, so I decided to step into the fight and become a voice for the voiceless. I fight for victims of crime compensation in Ohio because I got denied assistance from the state when my father died because of his past. As I stated in the statehouse while fighting this bill, his past should not determine his future—especially when he did not ask to die.
But while fighting the fight against gun violence and mass shootings, I noticed that the Victims of Crime Assistance Act was affecting a lot of families, particularly in Black and brown communities. So I decided to fight to help families get the assistance they need in order to recover after something so traumatic.
Because we are the ones still living with pain and grief, and some families are not able to afford burial expenses or mental health services—two expenses that play an important role in a family’s ability to move forward. Because no one should have to worry about how to bury their loved one, especially after a mass tragedy, and these services are necessary to be able to start the process of healing.
This is why I created a 501c3 called Flourishing Under Distress Given Encouragement, or FUDGE, an acronym for my father’s last name. Our goal is to combat gun violence and help survivors on their path of recovery.
As an advocate, I stand with families all over the country. I fight for our people in our statehouse as our government creates more gun bills to escalate the situation instead of trying to deescalate it. I call out all elected officials because they are not doing anything to prevent these senseless acts of violence from reoccurring.
We, the people, are tired of turning on the news or getting an alert on our phone about another mass shooting. We, the people, are tired of these shootings happening regularly for years, with one happening almost every day for the last three weeks. So we, the people, have to come together to motivate our lawmakers to push for change.
Because if not now, when? And if not us, who? I encourage each of us to stay strong and continue to be a force in our state and our community. Let’s work together to create real change.
Because enough is enough!