The March for Our Lives may have begun, but black youth have been marching for their lives every day and not to the same critical acclaim as their Floridian counterparts.
Where are the deafening cries of celebrity outrage over the eight shots fired into the back of Stephon Clark while he stood in his grandmother’s backyard holding nothing but a cell phone?
Where was the financial support of corporations after Trayvon Martin was fatally shot walking down the street after buying Skittles and an iced tea?
After a lone gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the voices of the teen survivors echoed across the world. “Never again.”
But what about the militarized police force that serves as a broken justice system, a police force that has institutionalized the murder of countless black lives?
“Never again” doesn’t seem to apply to black communities.
It doesn’t apply to Trayvon Martin. Dontre Hamilton. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown. Ezell Ford. Laquan McDonald. Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice. Antonio Martin. Jerame Reid. Philando Castile. Charley Leundeu Keunang. Tony Robinson. Anthony Hill. Meagan Hockaday. Eric Harris. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. William Chapman. Jonathan Sanders. Sandra Bland. Samuel DuBose. Jeremy McDole. Corey Jones. Jamar Clark. Bruce Kelley Jr. Alton Sterling. Joseph Mann. Abdirahman Abdi. Paul O’Neal. Korryn Gaines. Sylville Smith. Terence Crutcher. Keith Lamont Scott. Alfred Olango. Deborah Danner.
“Never again” couldn’t — and didn’t — save the life of Stephon Clark.
It’s important to remember that gun violence is nothing new in the United States.
While school shootings have seen a startling increase in recent years, gun violence has always plagued American neighborhoods, especially those resided in by low-income people of color.
According to the Washingron Post, there were 987 fatal police shooting in 2017. Of those, 223 were black people, totaling 23 percent of all fatal shootings. The article notes that blacks make up 13 percent of the total population.
As the March for Our Lives movement continues to draw success, earning magazine covers on Teen Vogue and Time and celebrity attention — and rightfully so — many parallels to another recent movement have been made.
The murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. galvanized a massive movement calling for an end to police brutality and police murder of minorities. Brown, 18, had just graduated high school when he was shot at least six times by officer Darren Wilson, according to the New York Times.
Black Lives Matter was heavily energized and organized by black youth, but received a fraction of the attention the Parkland teens have.
While we do not intend to minimize the courageous efforts of the Parkland teens, we do find it necessary to acknowledge that a movement for change organized by black youth did not receive even a sliver of the attention and support as the movement organized by white teens.
As we continue to march for our lives and charge a movement, we must remember we are marching for all lives, including the ones that never made the front page of a newspaper and whose voices have been brutally silenced.
Your state representatives have the power to reduce the institutionalized violence that is a part of black community everyday life.
Call for stronger laws defining when and how police can use deadly force.
Fight for a change in the police state training requirements that currently only spend eight hours on de-escalation, versus the 58 hours spent training on how to shoot, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.
Hold the responsible accountable. Take careful note of the subtleties of racism in assumptions and snap judgements. Be aware of the realities outside your own bubble.