In August, the country's first African-American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, made the case that the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, black and unarmed, would not become a historyic racial rallying cry, that it would likely fade away. But two months after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder, the incident still stirs deep anger in the hearts of young people.   I was terrified. I had no idea how to react. I mean, what was I supposed to do? I was praying for help but not even God heard me this time. I was walking down the street, Skittles and Arizona in hand. Next thing I know I am being followed. Why did my life have to end like this? Sorrowfully, the real victim of this heinous crime is not alive to tell you what happened. You won’t ever get to hear his side of the story. I am just one of the many voices who speak for Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was a 17-year-old black male who was followed on his way home from the store on February 26, 2012, and killed by a man who is not black. That description of what happened is short and plain. There is honestly no other way to describe it. I know you’re wondering why he did it. You and everyone else in the world. George Zimmerman, that is the name of the man. I am disgusted to even say it. He was brought to trial over a year later, in June. The jury eventually came to a verdict that Zimmerman was not guilty of murder. The jury was made up of all women. Five out of the six were white. That is not a ratio that I happen to be comfortable with. How about you? What kind of world do we live in where a black woman who fires warning shots to stop an abusive husband gets sentenced to 20 years in prison? A black man is protecting his son on his own property from a gang of white kids, says he accidentally shot one of them after a teen lunged for his gun, and gets convicted. Zimmerman shoots an unarmed black teenager and nothing happens? Don’t talk to me about the justice system because it doesn’t exist. Don’t talk to me about a post-racial America because it doesn’t exist. Trayvon wasn’t the only kid who was shot. Every black teenager in America was shot that night. They say that Zimmerman is always going to have to watch his back now. So will every black kid in America. I am just another Trayvon Martin with a hoodie. I am looked at no differently. When the law is not enforced, that starts a ripple effect and lets people know that crimes like this are OK. So the next time you are standing in the elevator with a white lady and she clenches her purse extra tight, make sure you tell her that you want nothing to do with her and what’s in her purse, so she can relax. The next time you are followed around the convenience store, make sure you tell them that you are planning on paying for your items so they can leave you alone. Don’t forget about Trayvon. We may never get justice for the young man. All we can do is “stand our ground.” Let’s all put our hoodies on and take a walk with Trayvon Martin.
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Even with overwhelming evidence against him — including his own reported zealous admissions — some teens are still not convinced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty of the Boston Marathon bombings that left three dead and more than 260 injured. His older brother and alleged co-conspirator, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in the aftermath that resulted in the capture of Dzhokhar, a/k/a Jahar. Tayla Spencer, 19, from Dorchester, still doesn’t think the evidence is solid. “How did they know that it was them?” Spencer asks. “Do they have video footage of them planning and acting-out the whole thing?” In this high-tech age of instant street surveillance snapshots, some teens are demanding visual lockdown proof before they are ready to take somebody’s word about things. As one Twitter user using the hashtag “freejahar” wrote: “da lack of evidence they hve mkes me angry bc they r meant to be pros @ investigations but no they investigate like 2 yr olds smh.” In addition, there is a set of young females who believe that Dzhokhar -- 19 years old at the time of the bombings – is simply too goodlooking to have committed such a ruthless act. La`Neece Byrd, a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy, is not among them. “He’s a terrorizer,” says Byrd. “He wanted to see Boston suffer. But something good came out of it. The citizens of Boston were able to unite as one and stay strong.”
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Kevin Rodriguez, 17, who attends Boston Latin School, believes that older folks are very important for society, that they are filled with wisdom, and that they also keep traditions alive. “I have seen myself in my grandparents because we have some similar ways of doing things,” says Rodriguez. “There are many things we young people can do to help them, but I think the most important one is just spending time with them.” Often, some teens say, what elders want is just someone to talk to. So being an audience to their life stories is a great way for teens to show their appreciation. Other youth, however, simply can’t be bothered. They see the older generation as burdens who, for example, walk too slowly and clog up the supermarket aisles. Bonnie Ramos, 19, strongly disagrees. She says she has a great relationship with her grandparents, especially the grandmother who gives her advice. “I think elders should be respected and it is good to give them help in any way because they might not be as capable as a younger person to get what they need,” says Ramos, who lives in East Boston. Juan Lopera, 17, appreciates the history and knowledge in those who came before him. “Old people for me are great people because they are our ancestors,” says Lopera, from Boston Community Leadership Academy. “They have been through life in more difficult situations than us. They have become more wise.”
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Relationships
Flirtationship = More than friends, less than a relationship
Often, at least one teen in this state has an emotional or physical interest in the friend, but each still maintains an undefined role in the other’s life. It’s a complicated link. You’re not really with the other, but you flirt a lot. It can remain harmless or it can lead to a relationship. It starts off really simple, light, easy, fun, and uncomplicated. But as soon as one person has more feelings than the other, or moves into a relationship with someone else, all the rules change and someone can get hurt. Say you meet a new, cute guy and he asks you out. If the guy you’re in a flirtationship with had feelings for you, this could cause jealousy between you two. In the end, whether it’s a friendship, relationship, or even a flirtationship, jealousy is the number one cause of break-ups out there.
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Zhane’a Williams, 17, describes a fake Louis Vuitton handbag. “It feels like plastic. Cheap material,” says Williams, from Dorchester. Real: Sharp and clear. Soft. If it’s stiff? Toss it! Funky stitching? You already lost it. Lower than seven hunna — 700 dollars? Not real! Dust bag — which the LV comes in — isn’t high quality? It’s a dust rag. Many teens are influenced by the material things they wear. “Status,” says Williams. “It shows or makes it seem like you have money and are well-off compared to others around you.” You won’t find teens in big box discount stores looking for something real to get their status up. It’ll only bring them down. “I think a name-brand bag will last longer,” says Nijkah Morris, now 20, from Dorchester. “It’s durable, and overall a better investment rather than buying a bunch of normal bags every couple months when they fall apart.” Morris says she would like a real one but, for now, has to settle for the imitation knockoff that can be had for $45. Tatianna Marie, 19, from Dorchester, goes for a pretty bag, real or fake. “Honestly, it really doesn’t matter as long as the bag’s cute,” says Marie. “I’ll take it name brand or not.”
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