The Racism Affecting the March For Our Lives
Black people are affected by gun violence more than any other race in the United States. We have been lobbying for gun control for tens of years but have been met with poor reception. When we walk out of classrooms and march through the streets, we are militant, angry, vile, and “disgusting.” With the March For Our Lives right around the corner, I want to address America’s embedded racism that has left black voices behind in this recent movement. Starting with the Parkland shooting, all the current Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who have garnered attention from speaking out on gun violence (David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, Sarah Chadwick, Emma Gonzales, etc.) have one thing in common: they are all white. Obviously these students cannot change their race, but I think it’s safe to say that if the survivors/spokespeople had been black, their actions would have been met with a less welcoming response. This can be seen with the Black Lives Matter movement. Just like the white people organizing March For Our Lives, African Americans across the nation gathered in their respective communities to take a stand against the injustices our people face. Unfortunately, we were met with policemen and women, tear gas, arrests, criticism, and racism. Now with the white-led March For Our Lives rallies, they have major celebrity and legislative endorsement as well as a reputation for being groundbreaking, empowering, and civil. How come when white people do the same thing us African Americans have been doing for nearly a century our events are disrespectful and theirs are innovative? It all goes back to the racism that has been embedded into this country since 1776 that portrays us as being inferior to white people. Even the former 1787 United States Constitution deemed us “three-fifths of a human.”
What can white people do about this issue? White people can use their platforms to globalize our voices. If you have a black friend who has a story to share, allow them to do so because chances are, millions of other African Americans have similar stories that they can relate to. Not only that, millions of people regardless of race may improve their mindset on gun control after being touched by our accounts. Another thing white people can do is be less selective about what they stand for. If you claim to be passionate about gun violence, be just as outraged with our disturbing gun-related statistics as you are with white people’s stats. Listen to what we have to say and educate yourself on ALL things gun-related, not just the Parkland shooting. Finally, I would tell white people to just be inclusive in general. Learning and sharing experiences with people of different walks of life is so important, and this starts with just hanging out with a diverse pool of people. When you allow yourself to open up to new ideas and perspectives, things like excluding African Americans from the #ENOUGH movement will naturally be avoided.
Shooting victims are shooting victims regardless of race. Gun violence and violence in general is abhorrent, and we must fight to protect all people. Many might ask why race even plays a part in this movement. The answer is simply that we must not alienate those who cannot as easily push for their rights for whatever reason. We must uplift and embrace them. There are several other groups who face similar struggles with this and other topics, but I can overtly speak on African Americans’ trials because I am one myself. Always be aware and understanding, so we can progress as a society and as a nation.