I Had No Idea That Black Students Attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The reoccurring tragedy that occurred on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is in constant rotation on every news channel. The survivors have become the faces of the movement, solidifying what the average MSD High School student looked like. Or so I thought. According to the media, MSD students are white and Latino. It never occurred to me that other students of color attended the school; which can be blamed on the coverage of the event.

Googling “Parkland Florida Shooting” takes you to a sea of images filled with Caucasian students, parents and administrators. A little more digging will take you to some students of color, but it was honestly hard to find any Black students. I must admit that I sometimes my mom/wife life bubble causes a few (many) things to slip through the cracks. But as a Black woman, wife to a Black husband, and a mother to two Black boys, I try to keep my ear to the streets regarding gun violence. It wasn’t until I opened my e-newsletter from Huffington Post Black Voices that lead me to a story highlighting Black MSD High School students and how their voices have been overshadowed by their white counterparts. I was honestly shocked that Black students even attended the school. Let the media tell it, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is in a predominately white, upper-class neighborhood with a large population of white students, and a couple of Latinos and Asians sprinkled in for diversity.

According to the article, MSD’s student population is 3,000; with 40 percent being non-white, and 11 percent being black – which is almost in line with the current population of the United States.  Even though the Black students are grieving and mourning the loss of their fellow classmates and friends, they are also quite upset and disheartened that, “people within the movement have definitely addressed racial disparity, but haven’t adequately taken action to counteract that racial disparity,” Tyah-Amoy Roberts, MSD High School junior.  The Black students have also pointed out that the new faces of the movement (who can currently be seen on Time magazine) went all the way to Chicago to meet with students of color to discuss gun violence, when they just could met with their Black classmates in their own cafeteria in their own school.  

The media’s lack of coverage and concern for all the victims of the shooting also sheds light on the lack of support for #BlackLivesMatter in comparison to #MarchForOurLives. While I do appreciate what Naomi Wadler has done for the March For Our Lives movement, she isn’t even old enough to attend the Florida school. She is a fifth grader from Alexandria, Virginia.

Most of the Black students that attend MSD don’t live in the school’s affluent neighborhood, so it is understandable that they might not hang out afterschool together, ride the bus, or even carpool together. But you’re still passing one another in the hallways, and eating lunch together; albeit not at the same table. In the words of Mei-Ling Ho-Shing (yes, she is Black) “We just want to share the mic.” If we don’t continue to speak up for the Black Community, no one will.