REBECCA CHATTERAM
Born into a West Indian family we were taught to not meddle in the affairs of others and stay away from controversial events. The act of avoiding such things would circumvent bringing trouble to our doorsteps. Our predecessors felt privileged to leave behind socio-economic oppression, given an advantage to pursue an education, acquiring property, having the ability to live in excess than in need or want. When the first members of our families began their migration to the states, it was in the midst of the riots in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, protesting against brutality and racial inequalities. Fifty years later, three generations after and we are yet reliving the same events. The recent death of George Floyd has brought me to question whether my children will have the same concerns, anger, frustration as I do in the decades to come. Being first generation born in America, I’ve come to realize its not only the fear of speaking up against oppression but the fact that we have become complacent with the mere fact of feeling upset, yet not ignited to do something to make that change. Any act addressing these issues may draw attention to ourselves or families, upsetting the comfort of our day to day lives. My hope is that parents, leaders and those with a platform will be inspired and not remain quiet. We can start by educating our younger generation about social injustice, being socially responsible and teaching them how to advocate for themselves. Most importantly, we have a civil responsibility to push our legislatures to a higher level of accountability.
When you ask a child of color, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, depending on what they’ve been exposed to, their answer will range from being a Doctor, Mechanic, Disney Princess, Teacher or some other job they’ve been divulged to on a day to day. The truth is, children of color are not aware of discrimination until they have been exposed to the act itself and the negative end result. How are we as parents, leaders in our community and activist bringing awareness to the very idea that discrimination is learned and not a genetic characteristic you are born with. The simple avoidance does not help but highlight the fact that discrimination alters the destinies of many people of color. It limits their income, opportunities and almost always, their ambitions. How do we avoid this and what steps do we take to bring awareness to this matter? I’ll start with our education
system. In High School, my social studies teacher, a white veteran did a great job at teaching the historical events and contents that has embodied America, but I clearly remember feeling so empty, needing more resource or tools to help rectify the problems I was still exposed to. Our education system is not designed to expose students to discrimination and events in social justice until middle school, however, political activism is very little touched on. Depending on the school district’s region, conversations about social injustice is not even encouraged. If an issue affects one area, the entire state should be aware of it and hold conversations. The isolation conversation and teaching of racial
inequalities must be brought to light across the city, state and nation. I challenge the system to introduce knowledge of rights and laws from an early age. It starts with analyzing and recognizing inequalities in pictures, music videos, and the shows they watch. The first idea is to bring to their knowledge that disparities are evident. Many forums and groups do not have the knowledge on how to safely advocate for themselves and make their voices heard. The rise of anger and frustration will only intensify and result in acts of violence when people of color feel like they are unheard, misunderstood, disrespected, and most of all when justice is not served to those who were victims of racial hate crimes, police brutality, and discrimination. These few categories long existed and our
political leaders must acknowledge its reality instead of reacting with unfair consequences when the crimes are committed. Everyone has basic rights under the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws. Educational leaders should be encouraged to incorporate conversations among students and families, educating them of the issues we face and how we can safely and politically address the. Do our adolescent know their rights, how to exercise them and what do they do when their rights are violated?
Time after time, we’ve witnessed a black member of our community lose their life due to
discrimination or a racist act of violence. We look to public advocates, politicians and our law enforcement to ensure that justice is served. In many cases, we’ve felt the consequences were not only unfair but the law was not upheld due to the color of their skin or position of power. I question whether the leadership of this nation, state and local law enforcement turn a blind eye to those in power specifically because of the unspoken “brotherhood” or if means they will then lack political support. The need to hold those in power accountable must be reinforced and constant pressure on those in authority is necessary to increase the awareness. I’ve witnessed our current President of the
United States of America mock a person with physical disability during a live campaign
announcement. He has demonstrated a lack of responsiveness and little compassion when the public brought attention to an act of violence towards blacks in our nation. He himself have not upheld the level of accountability to state officials or increased the increased the burden on local officials to make a change. Data from police mapping shows that police have killed 105 unarmed black people in 2015, whereas the same mapping as shown 1,147 killings by police in 2017. Of those 1,147 killings, 92% of those killed were a result of police shooting, tasers, physical force and police vehicles and officers were charged with a crime in only 13 of these cases, 9 of 13 cases had video evidence. Shockingly, 89 of those people were killed after police stopped them for traffic violation. According to the same statistic, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be killed by police and more likely to be unarmed. Could the change in our countries leadership during that time be a
factor? I strongly believe so. Federal and local funds have been set aside to frame an economy that will in turn increase derivatives back into the economy, however, funds are not invested into human stock. The increased training of law enforcement officials should be considered by federal and state funding. Compensation for those lives that are lost due those who feel more powerful when a trigger is pulled and physical force is carried out. If this was materialized in monetary capital and loss of power and position then changes would occur because funding would be lost. This is not a target towards all officers across the nation but to ignite the idea that there is a lack of accountability and we are not bringing enough attention to this matter. It’s time for all Americans regardless of color to
recognize to live by its creed, that all men are created equal, then justice must be served and the system in which we are normalized to must be dismantled and rebuilt. This renewed system must keep in mind that by saying all men are created equal, Thomas Jefferson’s initial intention was to abolish the system of inborn nobility. I encourage every parent, leader, public advocate and those with an audience to advocate for a movement of educating our youths, with legal and real life context that will help them to disarm this beast of hatred and inequality. We must bring to the attention of our local and state officials, keep them accountable to their promises they’ve made to hold their
position. The pressure must be increased until the cold hearts of people across this nation are moved and legislatures put regulations and laws in place to protect our people of color. We must put our feet on the neck of the underlying issue of inequality, destroy the root of the evil.

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