In New York City, thousands of students participated in March For Our Lives. Similar anti-gun violence protests led by Black Lives Matter do not get the same positive media coverage. Photo courtesy of Mathias Wasik via Flickr.
School shootings and gun violence are not new to the United States. There have been 17 school shootings in 2018 so far. 17 people were shot and killed at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Since that day, discussions of gun violence in this country have not been the same. Although it is not the first argument of its kind, it is definitely the biggest and most controversial.
The students and victims of this shooting have taken this country by storm, demanding gun law reform from politicians and government officials. March for Our Lives, a student led demonstration in support of stricter gun laws, was held on March 28. Students shared their perspectives on the events of that day and how the United States can step forward and make sure school shootings do not happen again.
Some UMBC students were also in attendance, among them, junior theater major Talyiah Dickens. When asked about the crowds at the march she stated: “The crowd was full of supporters, but the amount of black and brown representation was undeniable. We came together to end the gun violence on [people of color].”
Of the many that gave speeches, some black students were in attendance and used this as an opportunity to address the gun violence that takes place in black communities and inner cities. While these speeches got an overall positive response, one can only wonder where all of this support was when black men, women and children were, and continue to be, victims of the same gun violence.
Although Chicago has seen a 16 percent decrease in violence from 2016 to 2017, 3,457 people became victims of gun violence last year. Nationwide, police officers shot and killed nearly 1,000 people in 2017, and although only comprising 13 percent of the US population, 22 percent of those killed were black people. 60 percent of the black women shot by police were unarmed.
All of these statistics are open to the public and easily accessible by a simple google search. Yet when Black Lives Matter protests occur and they demand reform, the same support seen for the Stoneman Douglas students is simply non-existent.
The black students at Stoneman Douglas have since voiced their opinions on gun violence and police brutality, as well as the issue of the increased police presence at Stoneman Douglas since the incident. Because black people are more likely to be targeted by police, black students at Stoneman Douglas have a feeling of unease at school, especially considering the fact that they attend a predominantly white school. They feel as though their voices and concerns are not being heard to the extent of those of their counterparts.
They also feel that, in terms of media coverage, they are absent, although they make up 11 percent of the Stoneman Douglas population. The black students of Stoneman Douglas High School recently held their own press conference in which they wanted to make clear, they did not want to belittle or lessen the protest of their peers, but make sure that all voices were being heard. When it comes to gun control, all of those affected deserve to be heard rather than pushed to the sideline of the discussion.