by Karyn Pomerantz, March 23, 2018
Thousands of young people are marching against mass violence in schools and neighborhoods. They are demanding new gun control laws to prevent school murders, impressing many with their determination and maturity.
This movement can become stronger as it attracts thousands of people whose anti-violence demands are often ignored.
These are some of the issues to build a stronger movement:
Join the demonstrations against the police murders of black and Latin men and women.
These demonstrations have been diverse and have drawn many new activists. Multiracial unity and militancy made the Ferguson Rebellion especially strong, and the rebels welcomed anyone who would participate and accept the consequences. Later, organizations which had provided strong leadership, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), weakened themselves by adopting a nationalist position. BLM refused to allow white participation in its subsequent convention, about the same time as they became funded by billionaire George Soros and the Ford Foundation. Other organizations that divide people, such as Stand Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), which recruits exclusively whites to fight anti-black racism, grew in popularity. Only together can we defeat racism, whose divisive effect hurts us all. We can encourage people to respect and follow black leadership, and at the same time create organizations of black, Latin, white, Asian and native people.
The leaders of the march could issue statements condemning the police for racism and brutality and call for their classmates to stand with black classmates and to end the swat team and militaristic responses to the protests.
Call for the prevention of school and community based murders of black students.
While most school shootings of black students occur 1 or 2 at a time, they are frequent and deadly. DC students at a March 20th town hall meeting reported their fears of traveling back and forth to school with some trips lasting over 2 hours. Black students have demanded actions against school based violence, more after school programs, jobs, and mental health care. Their demands are often ignored, and students are blamed as being naturally violent and aggressive, reinforcing a racist stereotype of the “angry black man and woman.” Teens expressed their severe disappointment at the lack of a response and concern for their traumas.
The government applies gun control differently among African Americans as we saw in the police murder of Philando Castile, the Minnesotan driver who carried a legal firearm but was killed by a cop. In comparison, the cop who killed the white woman in Minnesota was charged with second degree murder and jailed without bail. White victims are treated with sympathy and respect.
Arming teachers will also reinforce these differences. Research reveals disproportionate rates of violence against black students by school personnel. Many teachers are white and view black children as dangerous. Stacy Patton, a Morgan State professor wrote in the Washington Post February 27, 2018:
“Calling for stricter policing, metal detectors and guns in schools is an attempt to change the subject from gun control. This is about protecting the narrative that white suburban schools are places of safety and preserving the idea that violence is elsewhere, that black and Latino youth represent danger. Even white children aren’t immune from the dangers of mass shootings in schools. If their families and governments can’t keep them safe, what reason is there to expect a mostly white teaching force to magically overcome the risks of implicit bias, prejudice and racial microaggressions to protect children of color whom they already have difficulties communicating with and perceive as threats?”
More importantly, how does the government use violence?
Violence has always been used to protect profits and property, not people, and certainly not workers, black or white. The government used violence to decimate Native Americans, enslave black people, break strikes and unions, and intimidate activists. It promised Saudi Arabia $350 billion over 10 years that will fund the assault on Yemen where cholera, starvation, and killings have ravaged workers. The Administration under Trump, Obama, and Clinton have cut social programs to fund the military and ramp up its preparation for war in .Asia.
African American people have a history of defending themselves for centuries: supporting the British against the plantation owners in colonial times, organizing slave revolts, fighting against the Klan, and protecting their homes. Only during World Wars I and II did the government arm them. Once the wars ended the black GIs faced race wars and extremely limited benefits, such as unfair mortgages, and limited housing options, and union memberships. Disarming black workers leaves them vulnerable to fascist attacks, now encouraged by Trump.
The campaign against violence has the potential to unite all students to reject racism and its violence against the working class. Students from Parkland and DC’s Thurgood Marshall rallied together days before the march (see photo). The students have demonstrated their commitment and leadership to fight for solutions. Let’s make sure they are not misled into the Democratic Party. Black leaders in the Ferguson Rebellion rejected the Democrats, pacifist church leaders, and many non-profit organizations as allies and invited their neighbors to join them. Let’s build such a movement now!