Students of color discuss experiences resulting from race

The clock is ticking. Voices wait to be heard. Protesters line the streets. This movement has only just begun. The more the issue is ignored, the more it will grow and fester. The Black Lives Matter Movement has prompted students of color to discuss hard-hitting social issues that they’ve had to encounter due to nothing but the color of their skin.

Damon Tyler-Moore, 12

“Growing up, I lived in a not-so-nice neighborhood. My mom was always stressing that if I go outside and play I need to be watching my surroundings because I can’t trust anybody in these types of neighborhoods. But still, as a black male, you’ve got to look out for kind and your people while still having unity with others. As the movements keep going on, people will finally realize what harm is being done to us black people. There’s going to be a change as long as we speak out on it, and then they will listen to us.”

Jalah Jefferson, 11

“When I was in elementary school, my hair was [natural]. My teachers used to always get on to me about saying that it looked wrong, it wasn’t appropriate or that’s not how little girls should wear their hair. I saw that all the other little girls had straight, long and pretty hair while mine was all short and curly. We didn’t see people [with my hair]; we didn’t get that representation when I was younger. [I thought], ‘Well, if my teacher thinks it looks bad, and everyone else picked on my hair, so I should just get a perm.’ I got a perm and straightened my hair, but it damaged it so badly [later on] that I had to go natural.”

Logan Diggs, 12

“Swim is a very Caucasian sport; it’s not necessarily a secret. It's always been a very weird experience going to a meet and winning the race, and then having a bunch of Caucasian parents be like, ‘Wow, he can actually swim.’ Being mixed, I’ve pretty much dealt with people telling me that I'm either not white or not black. My response to them has always been, of course I'm not, I'm 50% of both. I'm not really ashamed of that at all. I realized I got the best of both worlds in all honesty, so I'm kind of lucky compared to others.”

Fezeka Barnes, 12

“When I was in kindergarten, I went to a non-diverse school. There were three black kids in my grade and I was the only person who was fully black in that mix, and none of the other kids wanted to be my friend. I went up to the [mixed kids] thinking that maybe they'll be my friend because we're the same race. They said, ‘No, we’re not fully black, so we can't be friends with you.’ I feel like the high school could do a better job at encouraging students to reach beyond what they're expected to be their potential because I feel like in middle school, we're all around the same pre-AP classes. Once you get to high school, certain students are kind of told ‘Oh, that's going to be too hard for me, I can't do that.’”

Keenan Thrapp, 12

“When I was living in Georgia, me and a few of my friends went to the Sugarloaf Mills mall there. We all had, I guess you could say, nice shoes on. One of the security guards thought that we had stolen the shoes. He started escorting us out, but we kept telling him that we didn’t steal any shoes. The people that [worked in the store] confirmed we didn’t even go in the store that day. It was me and two of my black friends. I feel like people who are white don’t have to go through that kind of thing.”

I’Yunia Lowe, 12

“Everybody is human, so there shouldn’t be a big problem with who you are. We're all made different, but we're all made to be a family. Outside of school when I’ve walked into a store and there’s nobody the same color as me inside, people are thinking, ‘Oh, she seems suspicious because she’s in here all alone and there's nobody else in here with her.’ That kind of triggers me and makes me think I need to walk out.”

When reflecting on the beginning of the century and comparing it to now, noticeable progression has since taken place. While there’s still more bridges to be crossed, the only way that change can be instituted is when everyone actively begins to see that our differences are exactly what is bringing us together.


Peyton Sims