According to the Oxford Dictionaries, Intersectionality means, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” This term is very well-known in the fight for gun violence prevention.
On February 14, 2018, a former student opened fire and killed 17 students, staff and injured 17 more at my school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Many remember this as the “Parkland Shooting”. This shooting showed that bullets do not see race. That it’s only job is to meet its target, no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.
Many students have been galvanized to tackle gun violence in America. The fight against gun violence was coming from a predominantly white and wealthy community, which didn’t find the importance of gun violence until it was in their backyard. I witnessed how my community and my school found the topic “too political” to discuss prior to the shooting.
Weeks to come, black students at MSD have noticed that the conversation of gun violence was only focused on mass shootings, even though black students have been marching for their lives long before the Parkland shooting. This past year, I have become a local and nationwide activist. I see my white counterparts continuously trying to convey the message of intersectionality, some successful, and some having a misunderstanding on what the term truly means.
The fact that some activists and organizers believe that simply inviting and having representation of POC is being intersectional, is an issue. Placing people of color on a panel or speaking at a event is being inclusive, and it is crucial to give them the same amount of time that others have to speak. It is extremely important to help them when they need you, and not just when you need them. Inclusivity and intersectionality are very similar. In order to recognize how gun violence intersects through the lives all people, we must include everyone share their own perspectives, options, experiences, and ideas to move forward to a resolution to ending gun violence, once and for all.
You may have heard of the saying, “A seat at the table,” which is a metaphor for being able to make decisions along with others. Many use this metaphor when addressing intersectionality. I strongly believe that “a seat at the table” isn’t enough. If you are not “eating” than it is pointless. At the end of the day, a black boy from Chicago and a white girl from Parkland need to be able to sit at a decision-making table and bounce back ideas on how to end this nationwide crisis in our country. Gun violence is capable of affecting everyone, so the movement needs to look like everyone.
Written by Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a student activist, and a survivor. She is a passionate advocate for gun reform, public school safety and the Black Lives Matter movement.