I am 11 years old and I attend the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, a charter public school in the Dorchester community of Boston focused on culture-based education. On June 7, 2020, I decided to speak at Boston’s “Be The Change” Peaceful Children’s March. I started my speech that day by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said,
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This quote is also the reason I have chosen to speak beyond Boston and share my thoughts with our entire country.
It is important for young adults to be present to voice our opinions. There have been many protests going on recently all around the world due to the killing of George Floyd by police officers. Some have been peaceful, some have been very violent.
I understand that people are upset, but I think that fires and looting aren’t needed. I think that with everything going on, children have enough to worry about. I speak all the time at different events about the trauma that my peers and I have to go through on a day-to-day basis. Whether it is violence in our streets or someone getting shot, someone shooting drugs up in front of us while we are walking to school, children living in a home where it is not safe or children witnessing the reality of police brutality, trauma is all around us.
Just because we are children doesn’t make the police brutality invisible to us. Tamir Rice was shot and killed while playing in the park. Jordan Edwards was shot and killed while just sitting in a car. DeAunta Farrow was shot and killed while walking in the park. Police said he had a gun; it was a bag of chips.
No one deserves this treatment. The police officers or us. I know that not all police officers are bad. There is a girl in that police station right now that I have known since I was six months old. She is like a big sister to me. I know that she is going to be a great police officer. But because of her badge, she is also going to be labeled and I am scared for her. I’m scared to walk down the street as a young, Black, educated child. I’m scared for my mom and brother to get pulled over. I am scared that if my brother says or does the wrong thing to a police officer they are going to hurt him and I will never see him again.
I understand that the police have hurt us multiple times. I understand that if we don’t do something it will keep happening. We are taught growing up that two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that those who have wronged us should feel pain, but I don’t think that we should hurt them as they hurt us. We shouldn’t physically hit them. I believe after all the protests, sit-ins and die-ins, we need to continue to take meaningful action. Boycott non-Black owned businesses. We need to support and build up our Black businesses so that it can hurt them where it will continue to matter—in their pockets.
My mother told me that when she was growing up if something were to happen she was instructed to look for a police officer for help. We are taught that if something happens run from the police. What happened to that? How do we get that back? I don’t want to be scared anymore.
To the police officers that keep hurting us: I think I make you uncomfortable. I think you are scared—scared of who I am and who I am going to become. And because of that fear, you are trying to silence me. But you can’t! I am a force that you can’t hold back. I am young, I am educated and I am proud to be Black. So the only thing I have to say to you is this:
Be prepared to be uncomfortable.