By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
The March For Our Lives on March 24 was estimated to have been one of the largest national student uprisings in the U.S. since the Vietnam War, but the movement has received a lot of backlash because of the white students leading the charge.
The critique of the movement’s media coverage is fair as students of color fighting for change have had their voices muted by the media.
In fact, young black organizers in cities like Chicago have been among the most vocal in calling attention to this gun violence issue in recent years, but their voices went unheard until the students who experienced the shootings in Parkland, Florida, were given a platform and worked to incorporate their voices into the march.
It’s been great to see. Because in 2018, activism of all kinds should be intersectional. Everyone should have a platform and have their voice heard.
But young people leading this charge still need to work on their inclusivity. Though they’ve sat down with young gun control activists from Chicago and Baltimore and incorporated people of color into the program for the march, they still failed to take into consideration how gun violence affects black youth in the solutions they’ve proposed.
Parkland’s black students made that clear March 28 when they expressed their concerns over the calls to increase police presence on school grounds as it ignores the systemic bias students of color face in the classroom as well as the police brutality they face outside of it.
While the daily deaths of 96 Americans due to gun violence is a staggering statistic, so is the fact that officers were responsible for 987 shooting-related deaths in 2017 alone.
So gun violence cannot be addressed effectively if we exclude experiences from people of color. The solutions have no validity if we fail to take into account their voices.
This doesn’t mean the movement should be abandoned because they’re all still fighting for the same thing. Instead, we must continue to hold our activism and ourselves to higher standards of inclusivity and encourage these young leaders while educating them and advocating on behalf of those whose voices and stories are still not being heard.