We Need Change

by Aujanay Phillips, Opinions Contributor
Graphic by Sophie Gu

It’s hard to write how I see and feel about the world. However, George Floyd was murdered, kickstarting protests across the U.S and overseas for justice. Prior to his death, the Ahmuad Arbery and Breonna Taylor murders had come to light. Following him, Rayshard Brooks was murdered in a Wendy’s parking lot. As a young black woman in America right now with many black men in my life, I am scared. I’m scared that things will get worse. I’m scared that no change will come. I’m scared that more ignorance will be revealed and only hurt my community more than it already has. The list only seems to get longer as we continue to fight. 

The President should not have this much power right now. I have been saying this to so many peers: he is ABUSING IT. His tweet, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was so vile. What people don’t get is that there are people who are opportunists using this time of crisis to do whatever they want, while there are millions of people who are actually fighting for a cause. Yet the media makes all of these people a collective group. 

The news is one of our biggest enemies. They show what the right wants to hear. They talk about what the looters and protestors do, but never about how tons of cops are terrorizing people. This is true no matter what status you have, and even reporters such as Afro-Latino Omar Jimenez are arrested live on air without so much as a thought. 

I know right now that finding allies is so important, and I’m aware that social media won’t solve anything overnight, but right now, in this day and age, since traditional news sources have failed us, all we have is social media. I just would like to have the assurance that you’re not ignoring what’s happening. 

Almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this who is white, I feel, has said that as an excuse to not post. I had heard that my peers were mad that on “#blackouttuesday,” nearly everyone who hasn’t acknowledged the murders and injustice posted a black square. Then, the next day, they were back to posting pictures at the beach and going out to eat. This ongoing injustice is tiring. I do love seeing people who aren’t of color marching and going out of their way to make change. Using their privilege to do so, I should say. 

 When this all began, I was in a Zoom meeting with my teacher, Molly Baring-Gould, and I almost instantly began to cry to her. All my emotions had surfaced, and it became too much. I had teachers reaching out, telling me they know I matter and that right now must be hard for me. 

“And now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize,” rapper and activist Killer Mike said in Atlanta in response to its residents burning down houses. Voting is the only option we have right now to stop all of this. There are going to be ignorant people, but I heard a speech from activist Tamika Mallory where she said “If you want us to do better, you do better.” She’s talking about how America has looted black people, there are no equal rights for minorities, and black people seem to be the ones being killed just because of the skin we were born into. It seems like the beautiful melanin gifted to us has become a crime. 

Kids just get a glimpse of how bad racism can be. Spending 12 years in NPS and finally graduating has opened my eyes to the injustice black students and students of color face. Being ignored is the worst thing, but feeling as though no adult can stick up for you like you would hope because you are black is much more heartbreaking. There are so many unnecessary arguments over the N-word and who can or cannot use it. I have been in some first-hand experiences where the N-word was said and immediately apologies were being sent my way because I was the only black person close enough. 

What’s worse is this was the same kid over and over again. Astonishment was the only thing I felt in that moment; I couldn’t even be angry until soon after. I wanted to yell and put him in his place, but I knew that at that moment, all eyes were solely on me and my reaction. I went to my dean and told him about the incident, but all I felt was that this kid just got a slap on the wrist and no need for a bigger apology or anything. 

However, at North, when a student posted a video on their social media of another person saying it, they had an assembly with NSHS English teacher Kandice Sumner as a speaker. I don’t think I will get it, but I really do hope things get better for Newton Public Schools, especially with the decline of METCO students and the very few black students living in Newton.