Following last weeks post from Yudelka Espinal we are delighted to continue a series of blog posts by High School Students from the Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The students attended our public art performance by Dread Scott this past October in DUMBO. Over the course of the following weeks the students organized a series of “Town Hall” meetings to address the recent racial tension and social injustice. Today’s guest blogger is Jezel Lopez.
Jezel Melanie Lopez
January 2, 2015
As people of color, if there was ever a time to speak out about racial issues and violence in our society it is now. We are finally witnessing movements all over the country attacking the racial issues of police brutality and incarceration, but a number of us still have this tendency to shrug it off and feel that its not worth addressing. For far too long, we have continuously ignored the racial prejudices and injustices that has been crippling our community and killing our people.
It’s tragic that in today’s society it’s no longer a shock to see a member of our youth be killed because of the abuse of power from the very people that sworn to protect us. Controversial cases such as Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell are few of the many who lives were cut short due to the brutality of our police force. In the case of Eric Garner a black man was held in an illegal chokehold by a white officer, he was begging to breathe and ultimately died in the hands of the NYPD on tape, and the officer wasn’t indicted. We need to open our eyes and realize that we cannot be oblivious to what’s going on around us anymore.
For the people who believe these issues aren’t worth addressing, they don’t see that they are part of the problem. Ignoring the issue doesn’t mean that you are resistant to these injustices, it just makes you more susceptible cause racial stereotypes, violence and prejudices affects every person of color, in one way shape or form. If that doesn’t open the eyes of those who doubt, then its really important for us to open a space to have discussions on these urgent matters and promote change. We as youth can do a number of things to promote change in our community. To start, we need to organize clubs, support groups and classes in our schools that revolve around the subject of racism. Not only topics about violence from police but, issues such as the new Jim Crow and the stop and frisk campaign. To tackle an issue as big as racism in today’s society we first must open our eyes and become aware of it. With that awareness comes knowledge and with knowledge comes power. Opening dialogue between opposing sides and educating what’s really happening behind the scenes of our racist society is the first step to promote change.