I’m starting a new thing here called “Hope and Outrage.” A lot of us wake up every morning with the goal of rallying people to fight for better educational options for our Black and Brown youth. When I think about what drives me to do this work, when I think about what picks me up when I’m feeling defeated, it comes down to two things: hope and outrage.
Let’s start with the outrage.
Outrage: Give White Teachers Guns and Watch Black Kids Leave Schools
This was a stupid idea from the get. But now we’re being forced to treat it like a thing.
Danielle Slaughter has vowed not to send her Black son back to school if they arm teachers in her district. She knows that if you put a gun in the hands of the wrong White teacher, there’s a possibility that her son could end up shot.
I know too many parents who left Chicago because they were afraid their kids would get shot by the police or in the streets. Real talk. And let’s be honest, no matter where they move, these parents still face the threat of losing their Black children to gun violence.
It’s bad enough that racist policies and historic segregation practices have bound some of us to higher-crime neighborhoods where we have to watch our backs. Now Black kids may not even be able to feel safe in school.
Think about it: If we’re already afraid of the police who are sworn and trained to “serve and protect” us, then there’s no way in hell we’d trust an untrained, potentially stressed-out teacher who could be trigger-happy or jittery around “suspicious” looking Black kids.
Hope: Student Activists From Parkland Shout-Out BLM
But when White kids get shot in Parkland, suddenly America is in an uproar. Those students protest for gun reform, they get benefit concerts and town hall meetings with legislators on CNN. Just chalk it up as another example of racial bias, privilege and inequality in America.
(Don’t worry, I’m getting to the “hope” part.)
Should people be in their feelings about this? Absolutely. Hell, I sure was. But I’m taking a bit of hope out of some of these student activists actually recognizing Black Lives Matter.
Much of what I’ve done and wanted to do was inspired by Black Lives Matter. We’re protesting the exact same way and being called heroes just because the majority of us are white. America needs to do better in so many ways. https://t.co/TZp0ESCfIv
— Lex Michael (@lexforchange) February 27, 2018
For instance, 17-year-old senior Lex Michael acknowledges her privilege. She proclaimed that she’s learned from, been inspired by and would be honored to work alongside activists in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Chicago’s youth joins Florida to march in D.C for our lives. @AMarch4OurLives @Emma4Change@Cameron_Kasky@DelaneyTarr@Ryan_Deitsch@JaclynCorin@SofieWhitney@ChrisGrady5@Al3xw1nd
@sarahchad_@LexForChange @EvileMilie@DavidHogg111 pic.twitter.com/cPjgDnuJld
— representative DIEGO (@Diego4Change) March 5, 2018
People of color may not like how we arrived at this point, but this shooting has caused the country to take a closer look at the impact of gun violence and acknowledge the voices calling for change—despite differences in their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and skin color.
And from some tweets and conversations, we’re now seeing collaborations between BLM, Dreamers and other young activists around the country. We should derive hope from these students who have the audacity to lead, hope and dream for a better world for everyone.