by J.S. (11th), non-fiction
Has it ever occurred to anyone that BlackLivesMatter should also be sending a message about violence to the black community? Why is it that when it comes to big impacts of violence such as the Parkland shooting in Florida, everyone seems to stop and pay ATTENTION by putting themselves in situations to where their voice is being heard, but, when it comes to shootings in high concentrated areas of black communities, many people view it as normal? So once again, I ask you all today: why don’t people rage and spark up about violence that affects the black communities daily lives?
Today, you will hear me talk about Lateral Violence in the black community. Many of you may already know what Lateral Violence is, but for those who don’t, Lateral Violence is when an oppressed group is violent towards their own members of their own oppressed group.
I have gathered credible stories from a close friend that has been through horrific situations involving lateral violence. I told him about this project and my topic, and I asked if I could share a story of his. He was in Oakland walking back from a liquor store with other men who were African-American. They were all outside in front of one man’s house, and they saw a car drive past them, slowly shooting into the crowd. Keep in mind: these are black men shooting at other black men, who have no sense of decency for who was in the crowd and therefore those who were not targets, were simply guilty by association. I could hear the pain in his voice while he told me about this story. This was not the first incident he had been in, but it was the most outrageous because these men that were shooting had no remorse for who was around. He wanted me to share his story because he was a victim of lateral violence. It emphasizes the fact that it is an issue in the black community. People are losing their lives over situations regardless of whether or not they are involved. Today I will speak on two main points, the first main point will be the impact lateral violence has in the black community and how lateral violence is unseemly addressed by the society.
Do you know anyone who is affected by lateral violence? Lateral violence in the black community transpires daily. Did you know that 89% of all black victims were killed by a black perpetrator” as of 2015 (National Center For Victims of Crime). Based on the evidence this is a clear example on why lateral violence needs more attention and more solutions preventing black on black crime. This is not something to just talk about; this is a crisis in America that we won’t be able to stop if we don’t come together as a society and make change to where people focus on the “so called little incidents’ that happen daily and affect many lives everyday. This lateral violence is a call for help in the black community because it all ties backup to poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunity for black males.
Many People in the black community as well as other communities know that lateral violence does occur in the black community and since it happens so often, people view it as normal, and that it isn’t a situation that needs to be looked at RIGHT NOW. Going back to when I earlier talked about the crime stats in 2013, just as of 2016 a three year difference, according to the FBI's uniform crime-reporting, “90.1 percent of Black victims of Homicides were killed by other blacks”. African-Americans killing each other is causing major trauma in the Black community which reflects that so many young men feel hopeless. In an article, by Greg Raleigh, “It’s on us to end Black on Black crime, hopelessness” he says, “I spoke with teens after the 2015 Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, I found a majority never had positive male influence; they felt neglected and helpless. Committing crimes was okay with them. Surviving was their only concern; it didn’t matter who they hurt”. If the black community does not do something to address black on black crime, then this pattern will continue with young black men feeling unwanted and hopeless to where their only hope to survive is the streets.
I feel as if when Black people are questioned by other races, “well what about black on black crime?” we take that as an offensive question. During my research on Black on Black crime, white people seemed to be brought up into the topic when it should only be focusing on the problems and solutions to lateral violence. Adding other races into this issue, won’t help focus on making this issue better for the sake of our community. In my opinion, the black community has had the worse trauma because violence has been apart of our lives for over 100 years from slavery, police brutality, to our own kind being oppressed by the institution! What I want to get across today is even if it is brought up, what actions are being made? Does anyone in the audience know a organization that focuses on Black on Black crime and I'm just speaking for Oakland? There are many organizations world wide that help black people through racial, social and economic such as BOP (Black Organizing Project) but my point is where are the organizations that focus primarily on black on black crime? Where are the leaders, role models, older people who are African American using their voice to speak out on Lateral Violence in the black community…. Because I don’t see it and I don't see any change in lateral violence in the black community getting better.
Leaving all this information on the table knowing I could go much deeper into lateral violence in the black community, I hope you all were able to understand that black on black crime is a problem to society and there are some organizations helping the black community, however, there are not many focusing on the root of the problem for black men killing each other. My main goal in this speech was to educate you all on what lateral violence is and how lateral violence affects the black community, especially if it's not being addressed with enough attention. As a young educated student in the race, policy and law academy it starts with me, it starts with us, how can we change this?
by E.Sinclair, 10th
Your first kiss is a day you’ll never forget. But when you’ve never experienced it, you dream about the day it will happen.
“Guys suck. They only want to hurt you,” my best friend tells me as we FaceTime. The tears rolling down my face only instilled this belief. But why did I not believe her. I had heard countless tales of “love at first sight.” Not thirty seconds after she tells me this, my best friend begins to ramble on about the guys she likes, one with a girlfriend and one who doesn’t like her anymore. I had heard these stories countless times. “Does she not care about me? Are my struggles not as important as hers?” I wonder to myself. The tears continue to fall, but I say nothing. I drown out her voice with apps on my phone. Who knew Instagram could not only make me feel completely left out, but could be used as an escape. I see a post, the guy who I felt had hurt me, and I could feel another wave of tears rush to my eyes. I wanted to scream. At him. At my friend. At myself. But I stayed silent.
“What’s going on in your life?” My friend finally asks me. The tears continue to fall down like rain. I don’t want to talk to her, but who am I supposed to talk to? I start telling her the story, of how a guy told me he liked me, but only wanted my body. He asked how far I wanted to go, wanting us to be friends with benefits, not boyfriend and girlfriend. At this point the tears refuse to stop. I try to control them, but nothing will allow them to dry up.
“Welcome to the real world,” is how she replies. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” I reply. “Well this kind of stuff happens, you’re just experiencing it later than everyone else." That’s when I became fed up. The tears flooded my eyes, rolling down faster and faster. My vision became blurry. My best friend had managed to make me feel worse about myself.
After I told him, I began to think about him. I couldn’t get him out of my head. I didn’t even think he was that cute, but I just wanted to experience new things. Another one of my friends constantly boasted about what she did with her boyfriend. Being flattered took control. I don’t like him, but I want him. Or do I just want my first kiss?
by Samuel, 10th (non-fiction)
When they ask us “Why are you acting like this? You think you grown! Why you dressing up like this? You know we are different!” We say this is fashion or we are trying to fit in but most of the parents or family don't understand that or they just want us to follow their rules or do what they say. I understand why they are saying this because they don't want us to get our culture mixed up or forget who we really are. In doing so we have to live in this culture which is a good thing, but on the other side they don't understand we are trying to fit in. When they see us outside they ask most of us this: “Why you're not playing with the others?”
“Because we are different and we don't know what to do?”
“How are y'all different y'all got everything y'all want?”
“We are different because we have accents and we don't dress good.”
When were kids we were told that to know our culture and our culture mean to know who we are. If we know who we are that means we are supposed to act in our culture's way which is to respect elders, to help people, to not follow fashion, to go to church every Sunday and be a good student. We try to fit in by asking for good clothing and shoes like Nike, Jordan, LV, Gucci good brands because it would at least help us not get bullied. When we get bullied, we get bullied about how we look and how we talk but if we at least look good we don't get judged by our clothing and for the voice we have.
"We didn’t teach you this, this is not our culture” they say. They won't understand it because they don't see it happening or it doesn't happen to them like how we get bullied at school. I had a friend in middle school that he tried to kill himself because of his religion and they were calling him a lot of stuff like terrorist and that he will bomb people and kill people. The parents don't understand this because they don't see it happening unless we told them and if we told them we gonna be ashamed or think we get called “snitches” in doing so we decided not to tell them of who we are. In this culture we are forced to do certain things in different way or unique way like how we dress, how we talk, how we eat and etc. They think we are being broken because us first generation of immigrants are trying to fit in with others.
by Castillo, 12th (poetry)
I wish I was a cloud.
Moving through the masses for miles,
hoping I might make something of my meaningless migration.
Drifting down drab and dreary dawns;
the darkness won’t drag me down.
Sliding through soft silky skies;
The sun will stay by my side.
Wherever I am, whatever I do,
the wind will watch over me as I wander.
I wish I was a cloud.
by J.Aldana, 12th (poetry)
So maybe I’ll fall in love again
Only this time her eyes won’t be brown, they’ll be blue
And my hands won’t tremble when she raises her voice.
I fell in love with fall but maybe she’ll be summer
She’ll replace the falling leafs with blossoming flowers
And maybe it’ll be okay to replace hot chocolate with a smoothie
Because being in love with fall was unpredictable
One day she was hot and fiery still stuck on past weather and other times she was cold.
She was the sun that quickly hid away behind the swaying trees
Sometimes a little too early.
And it was exhilarating but tiring to keep up with her
To know what to say and what to do at all times
And maybe I deserve a break.
So I’ll fall in love with summer
Who is warm and inviting and smells like strawberries ,
Who will help me grow like she does with her flowers.
Whose smile lights up the entire world and will light up my life
Maybe she’ll make my hands sweaty and make my heart full again
Maybe she’ll be my medicine.
The one I have waited for through fall, winter, and spring
She’ll be the breath of fresh air after swimming too far under the tide
And oh my god I’m going to love her.
I’m going to love her dainty hands that play with flower petals and fit perfectly in mine and her wandering eyes that resemble the ocean.
And I can’t wait to have her laying next to me
To feel her heart beating in sync with mine
To see the flutter of her eyelashes that make my breath hitch.
She will be the home I have been homesick for my entire life
And all my songs will become about her.
by B.Bolt, 10th (non-fiction)
All our lives we have waited. All our lives we have watched. All our lives we have learned. We have learned that we don’t belong.
At first, we didn’t know what we were, who we were. At first we were just like everyone else. Then, we heard it. Gay, they said, always half whispered, as if, if you spoke it too loud, you’d be in trouble. And then, whether we were 9 or 19, 13 or 30, we knew. Something clicked. Suddenly, it defined us.
Many of us were afraid, because of what we’d seen when we watched and waited. Many more were happy, excited even. Most of us, though, finally knew who we were.
So we went on with our lives, knowing. But knowing brought challenges. Because it was a closely guarded secret, at least for a while, known only to us and a select few. Because if they found out, god forbid they found out, how would they react? What would they do? What would they say?
That, of course, was not the only challenge. Obviously, we didn’t love like the people around us. So, when the stress of love came along, there was even more uncertainty. Instead of only the question of, Do they like me? there were so many questions we wanted to ask. We didn’t even know if they were the right sexuality. And the odds of them being the same as us were low.
The trouble didn’t stop there. God forbid they found out, we said, and we were right. Some were okay with it, some didn’t mind. But some found out who were not supposed to. They called us names, yelled at us, outed us. They shoved us in lockers, they threw books at us, they followed us, threatened us until we were afraid. And our fear reached for us with fingers cold as the grave. It stole our voices, it stole our courage, it stole every waking moment, and it locked us in closets of our own making. Never could we say that our fear wasn’t justified, for they stalked, hurt, even killed people like us.
We stayed locked in our closets, in our boxes, in our prisons, locked in the darkness, for forever, it seemed. Our voices, so eloquent in our heads, stayed behind our tongues. They hid like rabbits, afraid of the fox that lurked outside. Afraid to make even a sound.
Yet for all the fear there was joy too. Because every time we met someone like us, or saw a couple like us, or were loved for us, the joy blossomed like a flower in spring. It grew and reached and we held onto it, nurtured it, savored it. So no matter what, it wouldn’t die.
We clumped together, too. Flocked together like birds, desperate for each other’s company. Because for the first time we were not alone. And there are strength in numbers.
So our days were spent as outsiders, not able to show who we were. We stuck together as some small protection, but still we feared to show our faces. Well, some of us. Some of us were not afraid. The claws of our fear were sharp, and they grabbed at our voices, but we kept hold of our courage and we held fast. We showed our faces to the world. Many hated us for it. Many loved us for it. And many followed our example.
A growing tide began to rise, with each passing year more and more showed their faces, loosed their voices at long last. Before, those rights that had been denied us, were now acknowledged. There were more of us than we’d ever dreamed, and our strength grew.
It wasn’t perfect. We still struggled, but fear no longer haunted out footsteps, whispered in our ear, dragged us down into the abyss. We kept it at bay now, because now we had someone to fall back on. And in turn, we caught someone else. Strength in numbers indeed, and also stability, also security, also acceptance.
Suddenly, there was pride in who we were. We could look at the world’s disapproving face and say I am proud of who I am, and you cannot take it from me. Our voices rang, free once more, and our joy echoed out into a sky clear for the first time. Many still hated us, many still oppressed us, but now we had each other. And we cried, cried for love, cried for joy, cried for those who couldn’t see this day. We cried for us, we cried for pride, we cried for the ones who didn’t understand. We howled like wolves to the moon, called like an eagle to the sky, and our voices, the voices of so many that had been hidden for so long, were heard.
We saw our children born into the pride we had worked so hard to find, to build. We saw them grow in this thing that we had created, this community. But as they grew, it stopped. They said You have your rights, you have your marriage, now leave us alone. And just like that we were back where we started. This battle would not be won so easily. It would take years, more years than we would see. So we worked, and we fought, and when we couldn’t anymore we passed the battlefield on to our children. Fight, we told them, fight and do not let anyone tell you that you cannot.
And fight they did.
by misfit6, 10th (non-fiction)
based on experiences of my family and interviews
We were constantly questioned and asked to do something. They asked us what type of Asian we were. Japanese? We shook our heads. Vietnamese? Again, we shook our heads. Korean? We continuously shook our heads until they said Chinese, which was when we nodded. They then tell us to say something in Chinese. We say something, and their faces showed confusion or interest. When we spoke, they either ask us to continue saying more things or tell us that is not how typical Chinese sound like. They assume that all Chinese speak Mandarin. We don’t, but we are Chinese. We speak Cantonese, which is a dialect of Mandarin. We have to explain to them that it’s what people in our homeland in China speak. The conversation goes on with them asking us about Chinese-related things or Chinese culture until they get distracted by something more important.
Moving from China to America exposed to us many new things. There were new types of food, drinks, and snacks. Even though there was an abundance of everything, we were still conservative. We were used to being poor, so even when we become privileged we never take an advantage of anything. We can now afford tons of rice, but we still finished each grain of rice in our bowls. We never let anything go to waste. Even though we saw new food, we never really changed our diets. We ate mostly the same thing as we did before we came. In the beginning, we were got all types of judgement for our food. Most reactions are something like ew what is that smell. Are those worms? Their faces become scrunched up like they smelled throw up and then proceed to exaggerate and act like they will throw up. Even though we were judged, we overlooked it. It tasted good to us, so we stuck with it. The food was our culture and history. We all have a moment where we remember our mothers cooking it and us helping make it. We all remember our eagerness to wait for dinner. We all remember the joy that came with our food. It’s their loss for not being able to enjoy this food we love.
First, it was the judgement of our food, and then it was our accents. For the food, we were okay with the reactions that came with it, but the accents were hard to overlook. Back home, we were free to speak our language with no judgement. It was easy for us to speak. Speaking English was no easy task. Even the perfectionists were never able to get it completely right. It was our main insecurity, because we know we can’t do anything about it. For the rest of our lives, we know we will be asked to repeat things and questioned. We know how many times we will be mistaken. We know how many times things will get miscommunicated. We know how many times we will be misunderstood. We know how many times we would not get our way. We know. That is why we are never going to be able get over it. Speaking English will never be an easy task. Our mouths are trapped like it is in a prison, forced to speak English. Everything that comes out of our mouths will be questioned by someone. We will be given glances when we speak Chinese, and we will be given confused or laughing faces when we speak in English.
The only thing we had to change was the way we raised our kids. America did not allow us to discipline the way our children the way we did back home. When the children get mad, we weren’t able to do anything, because we wouldn’t know what to do. The children get mad at us for giving them names others can’t pronounce. We couldn’t possible change it, it was their identity. The children get mad at us for pushing them to do more work. We just want what’s best for them. The children get mad at us for not being American enough. We want to explain to them why, but they’ll never understand. They will never view our history the way we do, because they never experienced it. All they focus on is comparing themselves to other students and assimilating to the American norm to fit in. They will only move farther and farther from their real selves everyday.
Students 6th-12th Grades