Black Teens From Across The Country Demand Gun Reform By Sharing Stories From Their Communities
"Parkland, it was a tragedy, but we have the same situation going on in our hood every day," one student said.
Over 100 people gathered at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church for the Urban Gun Violence town hall ahead of this weekend's March for Our Lives.
Teens came from Miami, Chicago and other major cities to share how gun violence has affected their communities at the event hosted by the National Black and Brown Gun Violence Prevention Consortium. In the wake of last month's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the event served as an extension of the March for Our Lives movement with a focus on people of color.
“Parkland, it was a tragedy,” 18-year-old Shatony Rivers, a senior at Turner Tech High School in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, said. “But we have the same situation going on in our hood every day. And we don’t get the same response from media, officials or government.”
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Parkland survivors have made it their mission to advocate for the lives of POC victims as well. They acknowledged that have their new platforms as activists because they are white and come from an affluent community. Parkland survivor David Hogg said he finds the way the media and government ignores gun violence against people of color "disgusting," according to Newsweek.
He also said the media made a big mistake “not giving black students a voice,” and that the media and public have both ignored the narratives of black students at his own school. “My school is about 25 percent black, but the way we’re covered doesn’t reflect that.”
Reverend Michael McBride of the anti-violence organization Live Free asked that people put violence against people of color in perspective.
“Every day we have enough of our loved ones dying in our communities to equal a mass shooting,” McBride said. “It’s because our communities have been disinvested from. It’s because we’d rather spend more money on police, prisons and jails, rather than schools, jobs and housing.”
Miami Norland Senior High School student 15-year-old Janai Altenor said that victims in Liberty City are often unseen and forgotten.
“Nobody comes to Liberty City unless they want sirens ― that’s not the Miami you see on websites,” Janai said at the town hall. “The children who make it out every day, those are our real heroes. Y’all just have to give us the pedestal.”
Outspoken activist and politician Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas (D-Austell) told the attendees that these teens are old enough to advocate for safer communities.