Let Us Not Forget the Brave Black Youth Who Have Been Fighting for Gun Reform for Years

Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there have been some powerful efforts made by teens to demand gun control. The teens have been responsible for organizing and successfully carrying out multiple anti-gun rallies and marches. I do not have a doubt that their efforts have changed the gun debate in the nation. Their demands and reception by the masses have been so powerful that the discussion for gun control has been taken beyond the borders of Florida.

With this said, we cannot forget that Black students and youth have been fighting for the same things since 2013 with the Black Lives Matter movement (and even before the BLM Movement, Black activists have been fighting for gun control and reforms since the 1960s). Not only have Black activists not gotten enough positive attention by the media, but many of the front line activists have been arrested and incarcerated. Why is there such a difference in the way these activists have been regarded by the media and the masses?

Some might say it was because there is a difference in the activism being performed, but I say that is certainly not the case. Rather I would say that the difference in public support can be attributed to socially ingrained racial biases. Demands made by the BLM movement have been clear and powerful, yet we have not seen the same collective uproar and public support for these activists. Since the beginning of the movement, student-lead groups have been demanding gun reform and gun control. They have organized rallies and peaceful marches. They too, like the Parkland students, have fought the NRA head-on and demanded change. So, why did we just now start acknowledging the unregulated possession of guns as a problem?

Even now that so many people have gotten involved with gun reform, the media and supporters silence those who have been most affected by gun violence. Black students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida say they have been ignored and silenced. They say that not only have their demands been set aside, but also they ascertain that the demands of the masses will only serve as a means to put them at more risk.

As a nation, we have ignored the demands of Black youth and Black communities regarding gun reform. It is now our duty to understand how the demands being proposed will affect Black youth. I applaud the leadership and passion exemplified by the Parkland students, and I insist that their brave efforts should be legitimized, but I also ask for all of us to consider the side of gun control that has been shut down for decades.