Jacqueline M. Pennsylvania

Racial Injustice: See me, for me

Our country is dividing ourselves into groups rather than working together to fix our problems. I do not want to you tolerate me, I want you to accept me, for me.

Dear Future President,

         My name is Jacqueline and as an American teenager, one issue that is very important to me is the racial injustice in our country. As a black child in America, I have experienced many incidences, about one or two a week, of someone outright judging me because of my race and/or saying racist things to me. And I do not think the color of my skin should be a burden on me.

         Being only thirteen years old, I have not experienced much. I live in very good community and it is mostly white. I have a couple black neighbors, but in other parts of my township it is normal for street to have no families of color. I go to one of the top 30 best school districts in country. And my friends and I get angry at our parents for not buying us $200 shoes. I’m very fortunate and thankful for what I have. But what I have learned is the more diversity, the more racism. If I am with my black friends, I hardly ever worry about being mistreated or misjudged. On the other hand, when I am with my white friends, I am always alert and slightly insecure about my race.

          Race is a human created thing. Americans made boxes to check off and names to call people. And I am not saying that we should and can end race. I am saying that race is how we divide each other into groups. And we need to work together to run this country because one person or one race cannot run it alone.

          I see the benefits of the idea of race. If extreme discrimination towards people of color did not exist like it does, and people of color were treated like white people, then there would be no reason to have race. But because there is a clear discrimination and mistreatment of people of color categorizing people is helpful. But conflict occurs when people underrate and do not give people of color the same opportunities. It makes absolutely no sense to make incorrect conclusions based on the color of someone’s skin.

          Take for example, Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy who was shot by the Cleveland police back in 2014. He, a young kid, was shot while just playing around in the park. Someone called the police and they even said on the call that they thought it was a toy gun, but somehow the police ended up this unarmed child. Am I supposed to afraid of going to the park? Am I supposed to fear the police, the men and women who are supposed to be protecting me? How are parents supposed to explain to their young black child that they should follow everything a police officer says without question, at the age of ten?

           What is happening in our country is not okay. I should not have to go out with my friends and have all us clutch our purses when we pass a black man. Americans have ingrained in our heads that to protect ourselves we have to judge everyone. But if we just took the time to know people we would not judge so quickly. I know it is impossible to talk to every person we pass by, but we can try to be more open minded.

           What I want for you to understand, Mr. or Madame President, is that our country needs help. We do not need tolerance. I do not need or want you to tolerate me. America needs a systematic change. America needs to accept me for me. We have to get it in our heads that color does not change me or you. Imagine if you were black or a different race. What would happen if someone would not talk to you or sit with you or touch you because your skin was a different color. Crazy, right? We all want for people to see us for see us, not only our skin color. I want you to see me and see that my life matters just as much as my White, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Aboriginal, Mixed, Native American, or whatever race they identify as, friends or peers. I want be accepted for me and only me. I want go out on the street and walk down the street and not clutch my purse.

          It’s clear that race has four letters but so do love and hope and I want better for the next generation and the generation after that. I want my grandchildren not to be afraid of the police and to be able to walk into their advanced math class and see a face that looks like theirs. And I want my grandchildren to be proud of what is inside of them and not worry what is on the outside. And I want my grandchildren to not have to defend the color of their skin like I have to do everyday of my life. The only way for us to do that is to work together to fix this systematic fear of someone who doesn’t look like you. Is that too much to ask for?


                                                                                                                                                               Jacqueline M.