I wasn’t going to say anything, but the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer let the cat out the bag. Black folk’s sentiments on the Florida school shooting doesn’t match those of white folks.
Is anyone surprised? If so, read on.
There isn’t a person alive with any shred of humanity who wasn’t shocked, outraged, disappointed, and sadden by the killings in the Parkland, Florida school last month. As we’ve watched and read the multitude of responses across America many have ignored how different the response is among blacks and whites assuming we all feel the same.
Tomorrow, students across the nation are planning to walk out of school to recognize the Parkland shooting. I wondered how black students would respond. In Philadelphia, black students aren’t too encouraged to participate. From the Philadelphia Inquirer…
…a junior at Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker, is all for activism, but she is like a lot of her classmates: hesitating a little over this particular movement.
For some students, it’s because they feel too removed from things that go on in suburban high schools in far-away places, or they feel numb to gun violence. Others wonder: Where was the attention during the protests over issues pressing our community, whether it be Black Lives Matter or the murder a friend or relative.
Even in Chester…
“Some of my peers aren’t going to participate because they haven’t realized how powerful their voices can be,” Chester STEM at Showalter student Sarrya Friend said. “They haven’t realized all we can do when we come together and speak up about these issues.” (delcotimes.com)
The Philly and Chester reason for not participating in the protest are different but they both attribute to why young black students aren’t jumping on the band wagon. In Philly, it’s a matter of being disconnected from the issues suburban students face and disappointment that they get no attention from the suburban community on their issues.
In Chester, it’s just plain ole apathy. The apathy plague the cripples the adult Chester community is evident in the youth who have no examples from the adults to draw from in terms of activism and engagement like the Philadelphia youth have.
Not every Philadelphia black student refuses to participate in the Parkland protest…
The Philadelphia Student Union, a citywide youth organizing group, is also using the movement to amplify its voice. Some of its members will participate in the national walkout Wednesday, converging on the Philadelphia School District’s North Broad Street headquarters and then marching to City Hall.
These young people aren’t following the status quo, though. They are going to the protest with their own agenda…
Rather than focusing on a ban of assault weapons or other, less-germane-to-them issues, the group has come up with its own, Philadelphia-centered list of demands. Among them is
divestment from school police officers,
more mental and emotional health services,
more guidance counselors and social workers, and
“gun control that does not result in targeted policing of black and brown bodies.”
Despite the close proximity Chester has with Philadelphia and the multiple transit options to get there and back, I’m not aware of any student organization in Chester that engages with Philadelphia student groups. The Philadelphia Student Union looks to be a good fit for Chester students considering how unique the Chester school district is with neighboring districts in Delaware County.
There’s talk that Delco United has made a bus available for Chester students to go to Washington D.C. for the big rally on March 24. I don’t know if any Chester students are getting on that bus. If anyone knows who’s organizing that effort on Chester’s end, let me know.