Practical challenges aside, many students have sought to complicate the narrative attached to the walkouts—including some who’ve distanced themselves from them—in an effort to raise awareness about the diversity of youth experiences when it comes to gun violence. Yesterday, 20 organizations representing more than 1,000 students of color released an open letter in advance of today’s walkouts, demanding that conversations about school safety take racial-justice issues into account. The letter emphasizes that efforts to strengthen school security affect students of color at disproportionate levels.
Rosa Florez, a 17-year-old student from Oak Ridge, Florida, who helped draft the letter, told me Thursday that she was still deciding whether to participate in Friday’s walkouts. “I feel kind of disconnected from the issue at hand,” she said, stressing that school shootings deserve attention. But she worries that the walkouts could lead to school-safety measures, like more campus police, whose negative consequences disproportionately affect disadvantaged students. “The community that becomes more vulnerable with the legislation that is proposed will be my community,” she continued. “If I walk out, what legislation am I supporting?”