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Me, My Dad, and Race
by Chloe, 14, NJ
Chloe’s article appears in the Spring 2021 ~ Feeling It: Changes issue of NMG. Thank you for using your voice and sharing your story with New Moon Girls and the world, Chloe! ~Love, Luna ????
Don’t have the magazine? Here’s the full text of Chloe’s very important article.
One-hundred-fifty-eight years since slavery ended, there is still prejudice against African Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves in America. There was hope people would be treated equally. But that hope soon went away. African Americans are still discriminated against because of their skin color. Even my dad, who is Black and the most caring, wonderful person I have ever known, was victim to this kind of prejudice. To this very day, we are still waiting for change.
400 years ago, 12.5 million people were kidnapped from their homes and taken across the sea to be forced into labor as slaves. They were forced to work and punished if they didn’t. They were robbed of their right to read and write, leave their owner’s land, meet in groups, and simply exist as free human beings.
Although slavery is gone, the discrimination of those years is still happening today. Instead of everyone becoming equal, slavery was replaced with a different system: segregation. Everything was separated for Black people and White people. In Black neighborhoods, the quality of everything including education, housing, and jobs was much lower. White people got paid more than African Americans. They had an advantage in a courtroom. They got better healthcare. It was through protests, activism, and the hard work of brave people, that laws were passed that granted integration and more rights to African Americans.
But even now racism and inequality haven’t disappeared. You can especially see that in current events. Since George Floyd was killed, the Black Lives Matter movement is demanding change, and with good reason. African Americans are still watched by racists who wait for them to make a mistake, or do something they think is suspicious. I saw this with my dad. Multiple times when my dad would go the normal speed limit police would stop him anyway. When I was little, I didn’t understand what was happening. Now that I’m older and look back, I realize the reason he was treated so differently was because of his skin. My mother, who is not Black, was never stopped or treated the same way my father was.
Two incidents in particular stick in my mind. One day my dad and uncle went to the store. As they walked through the aisles, a White employee started following them. They asked what he was doing. The employee said he wanted to make sure they didn’t steal anything.
Another time my dad went to get groceries. A police officer stalked him from outside the store. When my dad finished paying and walked to the car, the officer questioned and handcuffed him. Thankfully, he eventually let my dad go with a warning. I was always scared for my dad. I never knew if things would suddenly get worse.
When I see people protesting these wrongful crimes and demanding justice, I feel a twinkle of hope that change is coming. I and millions of others are tired of waiting. I hope these protests and calls for new legislation mean something. I want things to get better, not only for me, but for my dad and every African American in this country. I don’t know if I’ll get to see total equality in my lifetime, but I hope I can be part of the world taking the next step toward justice.
Inside This Article: About George Floyd
In 2020, four police officers killed a Black man named George Floyd. A store worker claimed Mr. Floyd paid with a fake bill. The officers pinned Floyd to the ground, and White police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck until he died. People watching begged the police to let him breathe. Their videos sparked nationwide protests.
Inside This Article: About #BlackLivesMatter
Black organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, launched #BlackLivesMatter in 2013. The hashtag went viral as people used it to organize and to expose anti-Black racism, violence, and police murders. The New York Times says Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in American history.
Chloe, 14, NJ, is a freshman in high school. Some of her hobbies are roller blading, writing, cooking, baking, and playing piano.