Kamilah Kashanie (KK): Families around the country searched for answers in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas in 2022. We’ll hear a conversation between a mother and son a few hundred miles away in Houston.
In 2018 10-year-old Dezmond Floyd and his mother Tanai Benard-Turner came to StoryCorps to talk about the active shooter drills in his 5th grade classroom.
Dezmond Floyd (DF): The class is supposed to stand on the back wall, but I decided to stand in front of the class because I want to save my friends.
Tanai Benard-Turner (TBT): Do you know why It’s hard for me to accept that?
DF: Because I’m such a young age. You shouldn’t have to worry about that.
TBT: Right. You are ten and you’re that ten year old who doesn’t clean their room. And there is no handbook for this. This is why the conversation always ends between you and I in dead silence because I’m a mother and I don’t know what to say.
KK: Since that interview, Tenai and Dezmond have continued talking about the active shooter drills.
In 2022, 14-year-old Dezmond came back to StoryCorps with his mom.
TBT: It’s been about four years now. So how does it feel listening to that recording?
DF: Now that I’m in high school, I kind of realize, the reality of active shooter drills. And It’s kind of emotional because I’m sitting next to my friends just waiting for a teacher to fake bang on the door. Like, once I thought about what would be the last word I said to this person sitting next to me, or what would they say if they were calling out for help for me? Would I play dead? Would I hide in their blood? You know, it’s a drill. But there’s times where it’s like one day there’s a possibility this is going to be real life.
TBT: This is my first time ever hearing some of this. So you’re telling me you’ve actually thought about what your last words would be to your neighbor in the middle of a drill?
TBT: Ah, I would have never. I mean, like, that’s hurtful as a parent to think that at 14, your thought process has to be, ‘what would I do?’ And I feel like the conversation that we had four years ago is the same conversation that we’re having now.
DF: It’s almost scary to say that these are life lessons now and you take them into the real world. It’s walking into a store and being prepared, like, which door can I escape out of if this were to happen? You know, school is supposed to be where we learn, where we have fun. And your parents wondering… what grades did you get? What tests did you take? Not what drills did you do today? This isn’t normal at all.
TBT: I pray over you every night, and pray that you are not the next victim of anything. And I pray that you’re never the hero of anything. You know, it’s like, when does this stop?