Students Show Solidarity for Racial Injustice
As people from all walks of life protest racial bias across the nation, many of my peers and I are doing our part to effect positive change – no matter how small. Some of my friends are attending peaceful demonstrations in cities throughout Illinois and the nation. Others are organizing protests of their own in the suburbs of Chicago. The majority of my peers are finding other ways to advocate for reform together with the Black community.
Many of these methods include posting messages on social media to spread awareness of ways to donate to civil rights organizations, sharing effective scripts for speaking to elected officials, as well as encouraging others to recognize and alter internal racial biases. The crux of the activism centers around how we, as young people, must stand in solidarity with the Black community. In essence, what I have witnessed as a recent Adlai E. Stevenson High School graduate and incoming freshman at UCLA is a nation that recognizes that the time for structural change is now – changes that will finally guarantee Black Americans the equality and justice they have fought for over so many years.
Being eighteen-years-old and an Asian American, I can’t begin to imagine the ingrained racial prejudices that have ravaged Black communities for hundreds of years, nor can I single-handedly rectify past policies directed explicitly at people of color. But using my own voice, I can strive to have difficult conversations and begin to contribute to efforts to reverse systemic bias. Like Brené Brown, who has studied vulnerability, courage, and empathy, said, “To not have the conversation because it makes you feel uncomfortable is the definition of privilege. Your comfort is not at the center of this discussion.”
Fortunately, I take heart at seeing my friends in Illinois and other states come together and step beyond their comfort level to make their voices heard, to educate others about the deep-rooted discrimination that Black individuals bear, and to spend their time making phone calls and donating to critical organizations dedicated to advancing civil rights and equality. However, this activism and unity must continue if we are to achieve true progress. Once these protests come to an end, I can only hope more young people – regardless of political ideology or background – continue to seek ways to make a difference. And most importantly, we must vote.
Victor Shi will be a freshman at UCLA this fall. He has worked on congressional campaigns, served as an intern for Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and is currently a Fellow for Equal Citizens, an organization dedicated to democratic causes. Victor lives in Buffalo Grove, IL.
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