While Parkland shooting survivors-turned-activists continue advocating gun reform to legislators, one group of their peers rightly reminded the public that their lived experiences and ideas are important to this movement as well.

Black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recently shared their assessments of racial under-representation and misrepresentation with CNN. At the 3,000 student school, Black students compose 11% percent of the population. 

“I would say that our voices were not intentionally excluded, but they were not intentionally included,” Kai Koerber, a junior, said. “Now more than ever, it is time to represent the diversity of our school, and the diversity in the world.”

Another student compared current support of certain activists with the marginalization experienced by organizers activated after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in 2012 and was later acquitted.

“We have never seen this kind of support for our cause and we surely do not feel the lives or voices of minorities are valued as much as those of our white counterpart,” student Tyah-Amoy Roberts said.

“We are proud to say that we are from Douglas,” Mei-Ling Ho-Shing said. “We are proud to say that those who are in the front are doing a great job, but we also have so much to say.”

While the March for Our Lives has had many successes when it comes to affecting national narratives, most of the students whose advocacy nabbed headlines are white. The overexposure of non-Black survivors, especially white survivors, likely reflects what the late, great law professor Derrick Bell characterized as “interest convergence” in his scholarship. The theory was used to critique how “the interest of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of whites.”

The Black Douglas students’ remarks reflect a gap similar to what 11-year-old Naomi Wadler expressed in her speech about including Black women and girls in gun reform work. It’s worth noting that the Black Douglas students were roughly Wadler’s age when Zimmerman killed Martin and the Black Lives Matter movement blossomed.

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