On the cold night of November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States. I stayed up late so I could see the results trickle in, or at least I tried to. As the polls closed across the country, the look on my mother’s face became more and more tense. This was supposed to be a historic night for women everywhere, but things clearly weren’t going as expected. Eventually, I fell asleep because the next thing I knew my mom was shaking me awake, a decidedly grim look in her eyes. I knew what had happened. In my eyes, Trump was the most racist, sexist and dishonest slug known to mankind. THAT had become president. I knew my life would NEVER be the same.
Not even a month after the elections, I started to notice a change in how people acted. To be honest, it had been ramping up for months, but I tried so hard to ignore the increasing hostility from strangers, usually white men. It struck me on one day in particular, the day I became BLACK, as if that was the only characteristic that defined me. While riding the train with my mom, I was confronted by a woman who had the audacity to call me, a then-12-year-old boy who was quietly reading a book, the n-word. After that day I thought of myself as a different person. I thought of myself as a BLACK boy and not just a boy, which was new to me. I had never thought myself to be black. My mom is white, and my dad is black, but I had always seen myself more white than black. That interaction changed my view of who I am and it continues to evolve today.
I would like my contributions to this newspaper to be used as tools of education. There are so many people out there that would scoff at a 13-year-old journalist, but if you are reading this that means you took time out of your life to hear the story of a young man trying to end racism. I can only do so much, but I know that I can share how racism, and all the “isms” are hurting not only me, but everyone around me. Racism is often ignored and dismissed. There are so many misunderstood people out there—Muslims, Jews, refugees, homeless, and even teenagers—just to name a few. All of these groups have to endure pain and hate just because they aren’t exactly like us. People shouldn’t be discriminated against due to their skin color, religion, sex, or race.
About a month ago I came across a movie called “Loving,” which tells the story of the Loving v. Virginia court case of 1967, in which Richard and Mildred Loving fought for the right to have an interracial marriage. I was inspired to try and write about what we, the people of America, can do to end racism. I know I can’t do it alone, and that’s why I’m trying to help educate those around me who can’t see how bad things are because they have never really had to open their eyes to that reality.
Hopefully, my articles detailing my experiences interviewing, interacting and volunteering with these marginalized communities can help open people's eyes and encourage them to join our war on racism. This is the mark I want to leave, the mark of an activist. I’m trying to bring the world together one 500-word article at a time.