While students across the country are gearing up to conduct a 17-minute walkout to highlight the seventeen students who were murdered at Parkland High School, other students, including many of my own, are hesitant to demonstrate their activism in that way.
No one disputes that the mass slaughter in a matter of minutes by a teen toting an assault weapon rekindles what has been a bitterly fought and politically divisive national debate in the last two decades. But for this group of Mastery-Shoemaker students, a collection of dynamic, bright high school juniors, the issue is complicated, and a lot of it is about race.
Sullivan, 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.
Student activism is nothing new and successful social justice movements often used broad coalitions that spanned race and class. Students remarked that the support that Parkland students received was well deserved and noticed that the support and attention for students’ causes around safety should be consistent, regardless of where the students are from.
Students from Raised Woke, a student activist group, noted that they could recall Black Lives Matter members and other Black and Brown activists being shunned when they raised issues about gun violence. Kudos to the Parkland High School activists who noted the same and reached out to some Chicago youth to engage and build together.
You can read the full Inquirer article here.
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.