The Soils of our Outrage

It is interesting to note the difference in support for the kids in FL versus the kids in Black Lives Matter. I say that with full admiration for the kids in FL, to survive such a trauma and fight for everyone to be safer. But that’s also what was happening in Ferguson and beyond. I started to think about this after George Clooney’s announcement. And it isn’t divisive to observe the difference in support from the media, from celebrities, etc. I think the FL kids are fucking awesome but so are the kids in Ferguson and Baltimore and Chicago and more.

-Roxane Gay (@rgay)

To reiterate, this is not divisive, it is necessary analysis. In two tweets, my girl Roxane Gay perfectly questioned the contradiction I was contemplating a few days ago. When seeing more unity over this gun control movement (via the media or Facebook), I could not help but think back to college, marching behind Black Lives Matter student leaders on campus, and how these calls for action were met with so much anger when it focused on protecting people (especially youth) of color’s lives.

I vividly remember so many fellow students (on a “liberal” campus, ~lol UW~) reacting with frustration over the so-called inconvenience that library sit-ins or street closures caused to their studies, finding it all ridiculous and unnecessary. Now, it feels like many are singing in unison over ending gun violence and changing laws. Of course, the NRA and the trash politicians reaping their benefits still exist, not to mention internet trolls, but I do not believe that the upcoming “March for our Lives” protests will be met with anywhere near as much opposition as BLM protests.

So why is it, that a movement for gun control after the Parkland, FL shooting has seemed to flourish rapidly? Yes, Sandy Hook grew more positive legislative change in background checks, but clearly, these tragedies continue to transpire. However, this current advocacy work by some very admirable Florida students has raised $3.7 million in 3 days. This is incredible, important work, and I hope this movement lasts and grows so we do not have to turn on the news to one more scene of kids running out of school with their hands up.

However, I will ask the hard question: How many Black kids had to die at the hands of police to see that kind of immediate support? Comparatively, the BLM movement was nourished by young people activating their voices in the wake of senseless violence that also requires a systemic change. In contrast, these voices, keeping with our country’s history, were met with separation, and a divisiveness that only festered more and more rapidly since 2014.

I urge everyone to critically question where your potential reluctance to engage in BLM protests stems from, compared to your willingness to leave work early for the Women’s March or for the upcoming March for our Lives. How can you shift your automatic thinking regarding these injustices that have unfortunately become so commonplace in our society, digital world, and conversations?

This is not to say that one cause or life is worth more than another, but if we are going to be outraged over violence, let’s make sure we activate our voices in response to all forms of it. So go, march! Absolutely stand up for what you believe in, but please think hard about how the calls for action after diverse tragedies and injustices are more similar than separate.