Teens serve as heart of protests

Protesters march around the Nickel Plate Amphitheater in Fishers on June 2 to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo by Ellie Albin.
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For days now I have had words running around and screaming in my mind, and I have finally found the courage to put them down on paper. I am a privileged, white, heterosexual female, and I will not pretend to know the pain and discrimination that our Black community has been fighting for centuries.

What I do know is that the hurt and damage of racism in our country pains me. The United States has been a beacon of hope for people around the globe with the promise of freedom shining; however, as seen in the past few days, its promise of freedom has not always been fair to all of its citizens. 

As a country, we have seen protests arising everywhere as a response to the murder of George Floyd, but also as a response to the ongoing systemic racism that has been plaguing the U.S. The protests have been filled with an array of responses from united people of one goal to end this racism. 

Yesterday, I heard a woman talking to her husband about these recent protests and teenagers’ involvement among them. She proceeded to say, “It’s just a phase that kids go through.” 

I cannot begin to express how much anger that one comment stirred in me – that the action students and kids bring to social movement could be called a phase, that someone would question students standing up for the end of racism and demanding a change to the narrative of Black citizens in the United States, that someone would equate it to be a blip in this moment in history. 

Adults in my life have raised me with the notion that I can do anything and be anything, that I am the master of my own fate. Why then can I not be a world-changer, an empowered activist, one of many sparks to a new turn in US history? Why can’t all teenagers and kids have and achieve these dreams without the doubt of adults?

To anyone who needs to hear it, kids are not going through a phase. We are a movement. We are empowered, brave, strong and steadfast in our beliefs. We care about our country and are convinced that we create change because we were raised on the belief that we can do anything and as kids we have the ability to hold onto that hope. Young activists who protested after the Parkland shooting are a perfect example of this. These students effectively gathered media attention across the globe and created March for Our Lives to inspire others to fight for the end of gun violence. 

Children have been changing history for centuries. One such instance is The Birmingham’s Children Crusade in May of 1963. More than 1,000 children and teens walked out of school to peacefully protest segregation laws in Birmingham in place of their parents who were scared of losing their jobs. The majority of these children were arrested, but they kept protesting and with their endless conviction and persistent action, they were a key reason that Birmingham withdrew their segregation ordinance. 

In Fishers, students encouraged their classmates and friends to stand with them as they peacefully protested for the purpose of addressing systematic oppressions and creating solutions. Protestors wanted to create a conversation that provokes people to be involved in a shift from the racism still seen in America. The protest drew an overwhelming number of Fishers citizens of all races and ages, as well as the participation and appreciation from the school district’s superintendent Dr. Allen Bourff and Fishers mayor Scott Fadness. 

An individual is never too young to stand up for their beliefs. Whether it be signing petitions, participating in demonstrations, or raising awareness, people of any age can move us closer to a solution. Everyone, at this moment in history, has the responsibility to help others recognize the pressing issue of racism and inspire them to create the change our country so desperately needs. Teenagers and kids have the power to be the catalysts of this movement and need to encourage adults to participate alongside them. 

Across the country, teenagers are leading protests. They are creating conversations to spark a change, and it is not a phase but a beginning of a future we all want to see, the future of a better United States of America.