Black Lives Matter
My name is Ari. I am sixteen years old. I am black and Hispanic. I am scared. My whole life I’ve been afraid of what could happen to me, my family, my friends, or my people, all because of the color of our skin. I grew up learning that my ancestors were slaves and that’s all most people in our country see us as. They don’t see what we did to help affect the future. As I said, I’ve always been scared, but the past few days have been even scarier.
All within a few weeks or days, these people were killed unjustly. Though, for all we know, there could be many more that we just haven’t heard about. I’ll be honest, there for sure are more people who have been unjustly killed that we don’t know about.
I constantly have to remind my twelve, going on thirteen-year-old brother to not wear his hood over his head when walking to the gas station or biking around our neighborhood. I have a lanyard for my keys, I have only one key but I have many keychains. Not just because I like collecting them, but for my own safety.
I have a friend, who is white, who was walking around my neighborhood with me a few years ago. She randomly grabbed my arm and pulled me close to her. I was super confused but didn’t protest.
We walked past a house of people and she told me to stay close and keep quiet. I didn’t understand what was going on until we finally got far enough away from the house. Said friend lowered her voice and informed me that the house we went by had multiple confederate flags on their cars and she knew that they wouldn’t hurt me if I was with her.
This experience was when I was in eighth grade, meaning I was thirteen.
I don’t have a license, I’m afraid of driving – I’m scared of getting pulled over. I don’t know what could happen. My dad tells me to comply and be respectful, but sometimes, even if we comply and we’re respectful we’re still killed.
Black Lives Matter Protests
I’ve seen people say that the riots are too violent and we won’t be taken seriously. Here’s the problem, we were silent for so long. We had peaceful protest after peaceful protest, but we weren’t listened to.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a peaceful protest where he would kneel during the national anthem instead of putting his hand on his heart.
Many other football players started doing the same. This was a completely peaceful protest, but people threatened him and others, they called him disrespectful, the called him irrational.
I myself got into the conversation of race with my English teacher after calling him out for saying something racist. I was called irrational and was told to sit down and be quiet. Many riots in the past are praised, but now we’re being shunned.
President Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Our own president is threatening to kill us. Police Officers are using tear gas and rubber bullets in the face of peaceful protestors. They are physically fighting protesters and the protesters are being blamed and being called thugs. Police officers are getting in trouble for helping said protestors.
Officers are going undercover to make the crowds look violent. The officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck, who murdered him, who ignored his cries as he said he couldn’t breathe, who ignored people around him telling him to stop, who’s fellow officers stood there and watched as he murdered a man, was only on probation and was arrested very recently.
But let’s be real, he won’t get as long as he should. He murdered a man, he should get life.
I am too afraid to go to protests because I am afraid of putting myself in danger. Not because of the protestors, but because of the officers.
This isn’t fair. Why should I, a child, be afraid for the life of my friends and family? Family including the rest of the people in the black community.
Why should I be told to shut up and sit down? Why should I be called irrational for standing up for myself? Why do I have to watch as my people are killed?
The four mentioned above are only a tiny portion of black people who have been killed in recent years.
Tamir Rice was killed in 2014. He was holding an airsoft gun, basically, a nerf gun, an officer, Timothy Loehmann, shot him because he, “thought that he was holding a real gun and was threatening people”. Tamir Rice was twelve years old. He would be eighteen this year if he was still alive.
Trayvon Martin was walking home from the gas station after buying milk and a snack for himself. He was shot and killed by George Zimmerman because he, “Thought he was carrying a weapon.”
Zimmerman watched as Martin went into and out of the gas station. He knew that Martin wasn’t holding a weapon. Trayvon Martin was seventeen, only a year older than I am. He would be twenty-five if he was still alive today.
Tamir and Trayvon were children. Tamir Rice was the same age as my brother is now. Trayvon Martin was only a year older than I am now.
People say this isn’t about race. Children were killed. Children. How can you say this isn’t about race? This very much is about race.
I’m tired of fearing for my life. I’m tired of fearing for my people. I’m tired of fearing for my friends and family.
If you stay silent during a time like this then you’re part of the problem. If you say all lives matter, then you’re part of the problem. Am I saying all lives don’t matter? No. We aren’t talking about all lives right now. We’re talking about the black community.
Please speak out about this, please do what you can. Please. I’ve cried and sobbed for the past few days. I’ve had breakdown after breakdown. Panic attack after panic attack. I’m scared of the cops at my school. I don’t want to fear for my life. So again, please do what you can to help.
Black lives matter.
Today’s guest post is written by Ari.