The March For Our Lives is sobering, important, and should shame us all into action. But like any form of activism, it can fall into the trap of amplifying only one type of voice: the voices of cisgender white people. Luckily, the march’s organizers have taken steps to ensure that a diversity of voices are heard, and that the march’s goals are unifying, not exclusionary. They’ve handed the megaphone to speakers and performers of color, as well as LGBTQ+ folks and those from communities who deal with other types of gun violence.
Activist David Hogg criticized the media for centering the stories of white gun control activists. He told us that the media dropped the ball when it came to representing Parkland students of color. “My school is about 25% black, but the way we’re covered doesn’t reflect that,” he said. (Teen Vogue notes that Parkland’s district census data is closer to 40% black.) Through his activism in organizing the march, and his student activist community, March For Our Lives centers voices that have been shut out of the conversation.
The list of speakers is also refreshingly diverse. Black teens have a been a fierce voice for gun reform, even if their activism is not on the front page. Mya Middleton, a 16-year-old student activist from Chicago, spoke at the rally on Washington. She witnessed an armed robbery, and became involved in activism through the group After School Matters. One of the movement’s most visible faces, Parkland survivor Emma Gonzáles, is a queer teen who takes her responsibility to her community seriously.
Singer Jennifer Hudson also gave a rousing musical performance. Hudson has seen the impact of gun violence in her personal life: in 2008, her mother, brother, and young nephew were killed as a result of domestic violence. Fellow singer Ariana Grande also was touched by violence when a suicide bomber attacked her show in Manchester, England last year. Rolling Stone notes that it was Grande’s first public performance since September 2017.