Gun Violence and White Privilege


In the American gun debate, police brutality against people of color must not be ignored. (Andronika Zimmerman/THE OBSERVER)


In the wake of the March For Our Lives movement, we cannot forget the lives of people of color who have been victims of gun violence in the form of police brutality.  On March 27, prosecutors in Louisiana cleared the police officers who brutally murdered Alton Sterling of any charges.  On March 18, the Sacramento Police Force shot Stephen Clark 20 times after mistaking his cell phone for a gun. On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by police who were later acquitted and regarded as “not guilty” in the eyes of the United States. These are only three of the hundreds of thousands of minorities who face the threat of death with every move they make. White people need to start getting involved and standing behind people of color in their fight against gun violence. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been able to check their own privilege and acknowledge the issue of gun violence through a lens that does not whitewash it. Showing your support for the movement against gun violence and excluding entire communities is unjust. We must not whitewash the cause. Here are a few ways you, as a white person, can aid in the resistance.

The first action you can take is acknowledging your privilege. Understand that white people have inherent privilege that is not always blatantly obvious. The United States is built in a way that awards the white community numerous advantages from birth. Use them for good. Understand that in order to dismantle racial injustice, the process starts with white people acknowledging the hierarchy of society and doing something about it. When acknowledging your privilege, listen.  This is one of the most important elements in being an ally; if you are not a person of color, you do not dictate what is oppressive and what is not. When a person of color is trying to explain something to you, do not interrupt.

It may be hard to get involved at first because you don’t know where to start, but simply following a page such as @undocumedia on Instagram paves the way for your own activist endeavors. Many different pages post several times daily with updates on social justice issues. These not only update your feed on different events and petitions in which to participate, but they also provide platforms for several social justice issues to be recognized.

Another aspect that many white people take for granted is protesting. Do not just get involved in the bigger events; go local, too. Show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement by going out and protesting. There are many protests that happen every day, especially in the New York City metropolitan area. There are numerous events that advertise on Facebook, so make sure to stay updated. The same goes for getting involved at different institutions, one of which is your school. Start a club that acts as a safe space for students to talk about these issues, and support those that already do.

Lastly, be angry. Being angry when hearing of all the atrocities committed is something that is bound to happen. Turn that anger into action. Your acknowledgement is the first step, but do not stop there. Bringing about change in modern society is not done through neutrality, it takes time, effort and aid. In dismantling the system that continues to endorse state-sanctioned violence against people of color, white people must act as allies and thus advocate for the cause. Be loud and call out your friends or family members who idly stand by. Fight the power dynamic that continues to ensure white rights, and no one else’s. Anger is inevitable, but the action that comes through the emotion is up to you.