How Anaya turned racial discrimination into activism
It was second grade. It was second grade when I learned first hand what it truly felt like to be black in America. I have grown up in Fremont California all my life, and it was in second grade when I began to doubt my self worth because of the color of my skin. Every day when the bell rang at 11:15 at Ardenwood Elementary school, three of my classmates and I would grab our lunch boxes, eat our meals, and then go play until lunch was over. Until one day we didn’t. One day the girls told me that their parents had told them that they weren’t allowed to be friends with black people, and so they couldn’t eat lunch with me anymore.
As sad as this may sound, all I could think about was the fact that my whole life I had thought only white people hated black people for the color of their skin, and these girls were all south Asian. I was confused. From that day on I subconsciously wondered if everyone thought that way too. We were only in second grade. We were only in second grade when racism tarnished our friendship, my self-esteem, and was effectively passed down from one generation to the next. Now almost ten years later I’m able to speak out about my suppressed feelings and insecurities being black has brought me due to a disease way deadlier than Covid-19; racism. I’m tired of hearing empty apologies and hollow condolences. It’s not enough to feel bad, we need change. I can’t bear to see my people being killed by the ones who are supposed to protect us. I can’t bear to hear of another young black child who took their life because they were taught their life had no value in the first place. I can’t bear to simply accept that my entire existence will be a constant battle, trying to prove my worth and intelligence to the world. I may only be 17 but I am fully able to comprehend the weight of the injustices in society. I can tell you that I don’t want to fear for my children’s lives and have to hear their stories of when they first realized what it truly means to be black in America. I believe it’s up to our generation to continue to educate each other. To continue to fight for equality even after the Black Lives Matter hashtag dies down.
These protests going on are extremely important in showing unity among our Fremont community and communities nationwide. Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin…people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…” I will continue to spread love, hoping one day it will break through ignorance. I will continue to uplift my Black queens and kings during this time because I know it’s hard being constantly reminded that some individuals truly don’t value you as a human being. I will continue to speak out against the inequalities in America because for me this isn’t a trend, this is my life. After years of reteaching myself how to love every single aspect of my blackness, I know my life matters, and I won’t settle until everyone else does too.