Black symbols appropriated by gun control activists


Nasirah Fair

The March For Our Lives was amazing in so many ways. It was led by students, organized by students, and aimed at making schools safer for students. All good things, however, have their flaws and it is necessary to look at all political movements through a critical lens.

While the March For Our Lives did a great job of supporting students of color by empowering them to take to the stage, the protest was highly pro-police while hijacking and appropriating many of the messages created by the Black Lives Matter movement.

I realized my discomfort about halfway through the opening video that started the march, which basically promoted the idea that only police officers and military personnel should have guns. This idea is incredibly insensitive and problematic because, for many Black and brown people, the real fear is being killed by police officers.

The fact of the matter is, Black kids are ten times more likely than white kids to be killed by a gun. To see white people with ‘don’t shoot’ on their raised palms, like the hundreds of Black protesters who used that same message to symbolize how defenseless Black people are before the barrel of a white cop’s gun, was absolutely disgusting. The notion that symbols coined for the empowerment of Black people interchanged for the advancement of other movements is extremely problematic.

The Black Power fist is a prime example of how the meaning of Black symbols can be easily lost in history. The raised clenched fist, originally used in America as a symbol of solidarity for Black people has been over time transformed into a symbol of general power, used by the feminist movement and Trump supporters–making it mean everything and nothing, simultaneously.

The Black race can never move forward if our protest movements are always overshadowed and overthrown when our issues begin to affect white people. Yes, gun violence is a pressing issue, and it affects all races in America–I’m not claiming that it doesn’t. However, it is evident that gun violence disproportionately affects people of color.

Many Black people live with the looming fear of being shot while walking home, when encountering a police officer, or even right in their backyards. In this country, “Black” is synonymous with “criminal,” which ultimately means that our killings are justified. The majority of America is silent when a Black or brown child dies. There is no uproar, there are no headlines, there are no meetings with Marco Rubio, and there is no justice.

I am tired of living in fear of a bullet, just like every other American child. However, I am also terrified of the thought that if I were to be shot, no one would even flinch. Black people have been fighting against gun violence for generations, and we refuse to let our fight be excluded and painted over to make room for the white fight.

Wilson students have lost many loved ones from DC to guns this year. Jamahri, Zaire, Omar–they were all Black. Let’s take back our city to ensure that we don’t lose any more of our Black and brown children to gun violence, and go as hard as you went for those white kids from Parkland.