The Parkland High School shooting, consumed by every news outlet in America, triggered interesting high school memories for me. My fiancé and I are both Black, born and bred New Yorkers and can definitely say we "started from the bottom (the hood), now we here (the gentrified hood).” While talking to my fiance I was reminded of my junior year being filled with excitement because I was able to graduate a year early if I took an evening economics class at another high school. Even at 16, my life consisted of all work and… some play, so I was more than willing to take on that offer to get the hell out of school sooner.
This high school was completely different than mine. It was much larger and newer but…with metal detectors. I remember freezing in disbelief when I got to the entrance as the school safety staff started emptying people's backpacks into trays. It was like going through airport security during a bomb scare. Some of us were getting singled out for having cell phones or key chains that looked like mace, while others who knew the drill (presumably resident students) joked with the security guards, got scanned, then happily waltzed right in. I was immediately frightened (and I was living in the projects at the time so I wasn't easily afraid of shit). It made me think this place CLEARLY has frequent gun or knife violence for the administration to implement such extreme measures just to enter the school. It's one thing to know you might have a run in with someone in or around the hood, but it was a shock for me to imagine that a school, a youth's sanctuary, was equally as dangerous. A recent Google search of that high school showed me there were never any reports of mass shootings or lockouts or lockdowns, etc. A few teen delinquent cases here and there, but nothing that warranted thousands of dollars for metal detectors (in my opinion). When I think of stories like Columbine, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook it hurts me to realize how vulnerable schools are to mass shootings. Yet still, it’s never a serious part of the standard post mass school shooting conversation to install metal detectors at these predominantly white schools in "nice" neighborhoods.
With social media at its peak, unlike around Columbine, the teen survivors of Parkland High are now shaking the hell out of the table by protesting against gun barbarity in America. They want stricter gun laws, less money to the NRA lobby, and to NOT increase the problem by giving teachers guns in schools. These teens have moved not only Hollywood royalty like Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, and Oprah into donating $500,000 towards their efforts for gun reform, but have also gotten recognition from corporations like Delta Airlines and Walmart to cut partnerships with the NRA or raise the age limit for buying a gun.
I hate to have opinions about situations like this, especially when it comes to heartbreaking stories like Parkland, where preventable violence physically and emotionally destroyed so many young lives, and as proud and supportive as I am of the survivors, damn if this doesn't highlight grandly how much Black Lives Matter activists actually DO NOT matter to white America.
For years, people of color have been screaming save our children from gun violence. Black parents (such as myself and my fiancé) not only have to worry about drive-by shootings, gang members, criminals in our dangerously condensed neighborHOODS but also from racist “bad apple” policemen shooting kids for playing with toy guns or wearing hoodies, mass shootings when we move out the hood… and potentially racist teachers having guns as a result.
When this publishes, I'll be interested in seeing the comments from my readers. I always read comments, and it makes me laugh when people are rolling their eyes saying, "blah blah blah, everything isn't always a 'BLACK' thing, this is a stretch… etc. etc. But when it comes to some things, it actually isn’t much of a stretch at all. A white person is NEVER deemed too woke, no matter if you're Angelina Jolie adopting ethnic kids from poor countries or the Parkland Survivors… but let a Black person get on a soap box or kneel on an NFL field... people are just trying to enjoy football, don’t care about politics, tired of you being too woke, and everyone just wants you to shut up because you’re always inserting your big wide Black angle where it doesn’t belong.
What I want you all to realize is this: there IS a double standard here that many are choosing to ignore. These activists and corporations are choosing to listen to the predominantly white Parkland survivors while Black Lives Matter activists were actively shut down. Even our beloved Oprah, a.k.a. Sofia in The Color Purple, tweeted a statement to the victims that said, "these inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the '60s who also said we've had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard." Although the parents and children of the Black Lives Matter movement over the past five years spoke no differently or with any less passion as the Parkland survivors, it is obvious that The System will fail one and not the other.
White people can be a victim, a hero, AND a mass murderer while Black bodies and voices stay marginalized. When are Black people allowed to be victims, activists, heroes and heard? Why are we always whining about slavery and Jim Crow and Black Lives Matter? When are we going to learn to just "get over it?" And by "IT" I mean slavery, segregation, MLK's and Malcolm’s deaths, the bad apples in the police department, and the idea that Colin Kaepernick could be kneeling on the unemployment line one day because peacefully protesting against racism was worth losing his job over.
Our Black youth have been fighting for years to end gun violence in our communities and nationally without the support the Parkland kids received instantly. They’re organizing nationwide marches for their lives, but BLM groups were demonized and criticized for doing the same thing. Where are all the "all lives not just student lives matter" detractors? The disparity in this country as it specifically pertains to race and class is disheartening to say the least. Let's see if Trump's "trickle down" plan applies to those whose lives he deems worthy of protecting from gun violence. Don't hold your breath.
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)