Huntsville High School English teacher Jennifer Rosewarne invited her students to use writing as a means to sort through their feelings and thoughts regarding recent Black Lives Matter protests and the incidents of murder and police brutality that have sparked them.
This is what some of them wrote.
Abbey Cameron, Grade 11: “I have never noticed any sort of racism around me. That’s not to say it’s not happening. I believe I am just not educated enough of this sort of thing to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t. I’m not going to blame anyone for that but me.”
Jakob Campbell, Grade 9: “I know these protests are important and are achieving much, but because of Covid 19, I’m worried that many more people of every colour will suffer the consequences of spreading the disease. I have still not met my little nephew who was born a preemie in March. His father is from Guyana too, and I worry for my little nephew as he grows up in this uncertain world.”
Hilda Chan, Grade 11: “Because of the privilege I’ve had, I’ve never experienced or seen anything like this with my own eyes. I’ve only seen movements and protests in movies and in books, fictional or not. So seeing it on the same screens it feels like I’m watching a movie. It’s hard for me to admit I live in a world where this is needed, where people have to lose lives, protest, beg and raise money to prove that their lives matter.”
Jacob Hunter, Grade 11: “Former [U.S.] president Barack Obama said, ‘The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system.’ … If you were the one being discriminated against, how would you want the world to react? If this doesn’t make you angry, you aren’t paying enough attention to the problem.”
Gavin McPhee, Grade 11: “Everyone is posting quotes and photos that express their feelings against racism. This helps me believe that the younger generation recognizes racism as an unacceptable issue, and that over time racism will continue to decrease in North America. I hope however, that they are not getting a feeling of good-doing or satisfaction by posting a black picture with the hashtag #blackouttuesday. I think that many people feel that they have done their part by merely spending twenty seconds to post a picture, but that is the bare minimum.”
Luke Mensour, Grade 11: “NO one can choose their race nor should they. Everyone should look at each other equally and appreciate diversity simultaneously.”
Keenan Paterson, Grade 11: “Throughout the past couple of weeks, tensions have built around the world over countless, racially-driven, horrific murders of innocent people by police. In response to these crimes, people of all ethnicities have risen around the world to protest against this behaviour and bring justice to any affected families. World leaders and important figures have joined the movement in order to ensure long-overdue justice for the black community. However, although these protests have been for a good cause, there have been many things that have intentionally or unintentionally undermined their importance.
“The first action that has disrupted the power of the BLM movement is the looting that occurred at the start of the protests. Many innocent businesses were targeted in major American cities and countless essential employees were struck jobless. Fortunately, the vast majority of protestors denounced the reckless looting, as it was unhelpful to the cause and harmful to innocent people.
“Additionally, many people have noted that white supremacists and other anti-BLM groups took part in the looting to lower the status of the protests. These actions turned the opinions of uninformed people against BLM and allowed opposers to reference the looting when arguing against the protests. Therefore, protesters have claimed the looters are not part of their cause and many have been stopped in the act. Secondly, police curfews have ironically provided an arguing stance for anti-BLM supporters. Although one would think the oppressive curfews and civilian fire by police would create more tension against the injustice, protest adversaries have used these to claim the police are the protagonists in charge. Amusingly, the people supporting the curfews and police action were the ones against stay-at-home orders and self-isolation during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have used their falsely confident tones to attract other anti-BLM supporters and undermine the importance of the protests.
“Finally, the ‘black lives matter’ and ‘all lives matter’ motto have affected the BLM movement. For the average person, ‘all lives matter’ would seem more logically fair and equal, and so they would agree with that saying. However, the ‘black lives matter’ statement involves racial equity for an oppressed group. Although ‘all lives matter’ would seem to be the better solution, it would not remove the racial inequality within America and the world. ‘Black lives matter’ provides racially discriminated groups the footholds that they need to receive equal rights. Unfortunately, many uninformed people understandably see the ‘black lives matter’ motto as discriminatory against other groups; however, that is not its intention.
“The BLM movement and George Floyd Protests have spanned across the world in order to fight against racial injustice and end inequality. Although there have been many things that have tried to either combat or dismantle the power of the protests, they will continue on and change the world for the better.”
Isla Russel, Grade 11: “I still haven’t seen the video of George Floyd because it’s upsetting, but I feel like I owe it to him to watch it and be disgusted.”
Kyra Sowry, Grade 9: “As a white person I will never be able to understand the pain and the fear that darker skin people have to go through constantly. But just because I’m white doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything about this. Everyone has a voice and this is our chance to use it. There needs to be a change! If you don’t agree, then you’re part of the issue.”
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!