Listen to Our Voices

Speaking up is the way to bring change

By Nikki Aqui, Staff writer

Growing up, I never thought that something as little as the color of a person’s skin could be an issue.

I was about 5 years old when I asked my mom what it was like to have white skin. I knew my mom was Puerto Rican and Cuban, but her skin looked different than mine. She told me to never ever think twice about someone’s skin color and to always be proud of the brown skin I was given.

But in March 2012, I realized something was happening in this country that endangers people who look like me. With the death of Trayvon Martin and other people of color, every dark-skinned person could feel the growing hostility toward them.

I was at Southwest Middle School when I realized there is a problem with racial tensions in our city. No one addressed it. No one talked about it. No one liked to say that this was a problem because no one likes to be labeled as a racist.

Every time there was a discussion about Mexico or Native Americans in history class, all eyes would turn to me. I had nothing to say about it because I am not Mexican or Native American. I just happen to be a brown girl with dark eyes and dark straight hair, so people assumed.

Even at Lawrence High there are racial issues. White students attempt to take control of clubs for people of color. Clubs like HALO and Intertribal Club are put into place so that these minority students can come together and communicate. There isn’t a club for white people because they dominate most of our clubs and have a majority of the country. Students of color need these spaces.

We need to have an open discussion about discrimination and the equality of all people. We need to know that as a people we can talk about what issues we are facing even if it is a difficult discussion. We can’t wait for outrage over another unjust shooting to talk again about the racial discrimination that continues. We can’t fix anything by sitting in silence. People of color need to be empowered to lead these discussions.

By the year 2050 it is estimated that America will become a minority-majority country, and when that happens I want us to be able to look back on history and remember how we finally overcame centuries of oppression.

We are equal. All of us. We need to come together as a human race and realize that. We need to empower the voices that have been silenced throughout time.