“Let them lead the way.” It feels very contrived and clichéd to quote Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All at a time like this but I saw a few “Children Are Our Future” signs at the March for Our Lives protests and since then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I haven’t been able to get that specific line out of my head because goddamn, these kids are leading the way.
The adults were not the story this weekend. Sure, many parents and people over the age of 18 showed up to marches all over the world and many grown ass celebrities who would usually be the story marched. But they, like everyone else, got in line while the surviving students of Parkland and countless other children affected by gun violence led the march and led the call for change. The brave, badass Parkland Students also have been at the forefront of calling out their own privilege. They know that they are the story. They know their protests have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response that the young people who marched for black lives did not receive.
I want to make it clear that adults were not the story this weekend before I focus on one adult whose presence at the march was especially significant. That adult is Jennifer Hudson. Jennifer Hudson’s presence at the march is directly related to the Parkland students and the ways they have shed light on the glaring difference between the coverage they receive and the coverage other victims of gun violence receive. Jennifer Hudson is a statistic. She is one of the countless black people in America who are disproportionately affected by gun violence.
Jennifer Hudson is a black woman who lost her mother, brother and nephew to gun violence. Jennifer Hudson’s story is horrifying. It is unimaginable. But it is the story of so many black and brown people in America. In the U.S, a black man is fourteen times more likely than a white non-Hispanic man to be shot to death. The same research shows that Black women are three times as likely to be murdered with a gun as white women.
There were a lot of stats floating around Twitter this weekend about gun violence. It’s easy to detach from stats. It’s not as easy to look young people in the eyes who are desperately fighting for gun violence in their lives to never be normalized. That is why the surviving Parkland students have been so powerful. They are not all white – that is important to note –but the ones who are have given white adults a masterclass in allyship. They have actively used their voices to lift up the voiceless. It gives me so much hope.
The video embedded below, which shows David Hogg and Alfonso Calderon, two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students visiting a DC high school before the march, gave me so much hope.
"I know you guys are going through the exact same thing. You just don't have the platform. People aren't listening to you."— Splinter (@splinter_news) March 23, 2018
Parkland students visited a DC high school to speak out for—and with—students of color: pic.twitter.com/uLIYdybFVc
It is only because of these kids that we are talking about the stories of the young black people affected by gun violence in America today. It is because of Naomi Wadler, the 11-year-old girl who used her speech to represent, in her words, “the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper.”
NAOMI WADLER. Remember her name. Remember the names of the girls she mentioned in her speech. You can read more about Naomi Wadler here. She is leading the way.
If these children are our future, maybe we’re going to be OK. Maybe the times are changing. That message is what Jennifer Hudson brought to the March For Our Lives rally in D.C on Saturday. She sang The Times They Are A Changin'. Knowing what we know about Jennifer Hudson’s story and her personal connection to this cause, and after listening to Naomi Wadler, I don’t think it’s possible to get through this performance without crying but you can try.