Fiorella Beccaglia Assistant Opinion Editor
The recent coverage of the March for Our Lives movement in the media invoked a strong response of support from most of the American public. Young, inspiring students such as Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg became the empowering voice of anti-gun supporters. The March for Our Lives movement criticizes the government’s willingness to protect special-interests groups’ political agenda, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), over the passage of legislation that attempts to end the indisputable issue of gun violence. The movement’s support from the public has been astonishing. More than 800 cities throughout the country organized protests and, according to CBS, more than 200,000 marched in Washington D.C. alone. While it is phenomenal that masses of people united in support of this movement and the actions young activists are taking should be praised, it is important to ask ourselves why the Black Lives Matter movement did not gain the same support.
Although the Black Lives Matter movement mission statement had a defined focus on African American communities, both movements had similar intrinsic goals—to end gun violence. Despite their commonalities, the American people did not view both movements with the same attitude. According to Pew Research Center, during the culmination of the Black Lives Matter movement 43% supported it and more effective gun laws. On the other hand, 66% supported the student activists.
These statistics portray the subtle yet enduring racism that is still embedded in American society. A lot of the violence inflicted on black communities revolves around police brutality and the state’s unwillingness to act against injustice. According to a study done by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, black men serve 19.1% longer sentences as white men for the same federal crimes. This statistic also shows true even when a black man has the same criminal history, age, plead, and education. Pervasive racism goes hand in hand with gun violence. Despite public controversy, many other goals about the Black Lives Matters movement have been overshadowed by the erroneous assumption that black people simply hate the police. The Black Lives Matter website conveys inclusive messages about social cohesion and asserts the existence of other groups that have been brutally targeted such as Hispanics, Muslims, queer, transsexual, disabled individuals, and women.
I believe we need an intersectional approach to this issue to save as many lives as possible. It is every “March For Our Lives” member and supporter’s duty to also support Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter deserves more attention now that the American public has a widespread support for gun control as shown by the recent success of the March For Our Lives protests. African American students and adults have been demanding and marching for more effective gun regulations for years, but they were seldom heard. A partnership should be formed in a mission of safety built upon common sense and fueled by a common denominator that can bring together every American regardless of ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and gender.