Image Source: Getty / Temma Hankin
Shortly after a gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Quinta Brunson, writer and star of the NBC sitcom “Abbott Elementary,” began receiving disturbing requests online. Fans were asking her to write an episode of her show that featured a school shooting.
Brunson, who plays a second grade teacher on the comedy, addressed the requests on Twitter on May 25. “Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write,” she wrote. “People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no’.”
wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write. people are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding “entertainment.” I can’t ask “are yall ok” anymore because the answer is “no.”
— quinta brunson (@quintabrunson) May 25, 2022
Instead, she encouraged fans to pressure their elected officials. “Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you,” she said, referencing the fact that Beto O’Rourke recently interrupted Texas governor Greg Abbott during a press conference, yelling, “You are doing nothing. You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”
In her Twitter thread, Brunson shared an example of a message from a fan that asked her to “formulate an angle that would get government to understand why laws need to pass.” She suggested thinking more deeply about what it means to ask her to feature a school shooting on “Abbot Elementary,” and concluded the thread by calling for more political action. “Make them listen. They ran for office,” she wrote. “This show did not.”
People quickly jumped in to support Brunson and to elaborate on the problems with these fans’ requests. “Those people (most likely white) are expecting a Black woman to do the hard labor of talking about fun violence when those same people see it on the news every day and so nothing,” said a Twitter user named @Writergirl2009, who asked that concerned fans focus their energy on demanding that Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema take steps to end the Senate filibuster. When invoked, it requires a 60/40 majority in the Senate to pass bills, and this has stymied a great deal of action in the Senate in the years. The Twitter user also encouraged people to demand that President Biden stop caring so much about catering to Republican interest, and to take a deeper look at themselves.
On top of that, those people (most likely white) are expecting a Black woman to do the hard labor of talking about fun violence when those same people see it on the news every day and so nothing. Why aren’t they in the faces of @Sen_JoeManchin @SenatorSinema demanding they https://t.co/jacdd4DLbZ
— Grogu’s Mom (@Writergirl2009) May 25, 2022
Another Twitter user questioned the dangers of using entertainment to process and respond to a painful yet preventable reality that requires real-world action. “This need to [fictionalize] the real horrors bc nobody has stopped them in real life, so maybe “entertainment” can provide the desired outcome,” Dr. Dee Knight wrote. “Yeah, no. Not okay. This detachment from reality after lack of relief… The trauma, the trauma. Get well soon, y’all.”
This need to factionalize the real horrors bc nobody has stopped them in real life, so maybe “entertainment” can provide the desired outcome…
Yeah, no. Not okay.
This detachment from reality after lack of relief…
The trauma, the trauma.
Get well soon, y’all.
— Dr. Dee Knight (@DrDeeKnight) May 25, 2022
The Uvalde shooting has sparked widespread calls for nationwide gun safety measures. An episode of “Abbott Elementary” will not change the minds of elected officials, but it would risk traumatizing its cast of young children of color. Taking real action to ensure gun safety, sustained action, political pressure, and grassroots organizing will result in the sustainable change we need.
For anyone looking to get more involved in the fight to stop mass shootings, EveryTown and Newtown Action Alliance are a few examples of good places to start. You can also consider donating to an organization fighting for change.