It's time to talk about the privilege hidden within March For Our Lives: Where was this support for Black Lives Matter?
By Alexis Alex
Gun Control is the hottest political topic right now. The Parkland students and The March For Our Lives movement have been doing the work to bring gun control legislation to the forefront. Although this movement has been powerful and impactful, we must recognize how the idolization of this movement plays a part in erasing the voices of people of color.
Megan Hobson, a Black activist who attended the March for Our Lives Rally, expresses how she felt left out at the rally and the movement entirely.
“The whole conversation behind Parkland is really great, but from young black kids’ eyes it looks different,” says Hobson. “To people who are saying this movement began in Parkland, I'm like no, this movement began in the hood. It sometimes feels like a slap in the face.” (The Miami New Times)
Megan Hobson is right. Although all incidents of gun violence is tragic and devastating, Black children are at risk the most. Past studies have revealed that Black children are ten times more likely to get killed by guns than white children. This means that Black faces need to be at the forefront of any gun control movement by default because we are at risk the most. I do appreciate 11-year-old Naomi Walder speaking at the March For Our Lives rally to humanize Black voices, but this is not enough. There are local and national gun control projects and movements created by people of color that have been up and running for years before the Stoneman Douglas incident, but have received little to no exposure. For example, The Black Lives Matter movement has not received nearly half of the support as March For Our Lives due to the fact that the media has a tendency to silence or demonize Black movements.
Think about it, most of the people on the frontlines of Black Lives Matter protests were young people of color who are students and teenagers as well, but they were met with tear gas and pepper spray, not magazine covers and widespread donations. The Parkland students are labeled as brave for protesting and calling for gun control legislation while Black Lives Matter protesters are labeled as "thugs" and "rioters" with no direction. The purpose of this article is to recognize when history is being white washed. Years from now when the fight for gun control reform is being written in history books, the only thing that will be mentioned is the Parkland students and their bravery for starting March For Our Lives, but it is important to remember the people of color who have been fighting for gun control long before this.
Recently, I read the Patriots team owner, Robert Kraft, donated the team's private jet to help transport Parkland students to Washington DC for the March For Our Lives rally. Also, Oprah Winfrey donated $500,000 to the March For Our Lives Movement tweeting,
Excuse me, where was all this support for Black Youth?
Charlene Carruthers, the national director of Black Youth Project 100, responded to Oprah's statement calling her out for her lack of enthusiasm for the Black lives movement.
I applaud The March For Our Lives movement, but lets not get it twisted. Young Black activists have been advocating for gun reform for years now without the help of big celebrity donations and private jets and their work deserves to be recognized. While we celebrate the Parkland students success, we need examine why certain movements are celebrated and others are ignored and demonized. The Parkland students did not start the gun reform movement, their White privilege publicized it. Stay woke my friends.