This Is My Story | #BlackLivesMatter

– Hello, my name is Anais Martin – Kaelyn Cooper – Dionte Macon – Dominic Williams – Royel Augustine – My name is Don – Ethan Woods – Anthony – Brian – Vivica – I’m Reagan Jackson – And I’m Peyton Jackson – Faith Levan – Jamayla Gray – Kennedy Zimet – Ky’la Harvey – It’s Ruby Hayes – I’m Shar Jossell – Ulises Gonzalez – Shenita Moore, and this is my story – This is my story – This is my story – This is my story – (all) This is my story – (all) This is my story – (both) And this is our story – I was about nine years old I was at my friend’s house, and we were playing outside with her white neighbors They wanted to go back to their house to play, and the little sister came up to me and said that I’d have to wait outside and that I couldn’t come inside, because her parents did not like black people in the house At nine years old, I couldn’t understand why somebody would say this to me, and I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t want me inside of their home because of my skin color To this day, almost every time that I leave the house, the fact that I’m Black lingers in the back of my mind, whether I’m going out for a walk with a hoodie on and I can’t put my hood on, because I might look “suspicious,” or how sometimes I go to the grocery store and I’m followed by security, or when I’m driving and a cop appears in back of me and my heart races It’s 2020, and we’re still having to fight to let people know that our lives matter You can’t be silent about this You have to speak up – When I was 15, walking home from school, I had a pair of white women split the road Like, they were walking next to each other out of the grocery store and they saw me walking I was probably about 15 yards away before– no, like 20 yards away before I was even next to them, but they saw me, immediately clutched their bags and pulled out their phones One of them split ways and stood at the doorway of the store they just walked out of while the other one went pretty much in the middle of the street to avoid being standing next to me, to avoid me just walking by, going home from school just because they were that scared that I was gonna do something just ’cause I’m Black Just ’cause I’m Black Didn’t have a hoodie up I was raised and told and witnessed on the news that having your hoodie up as a Black man walking down street is not a safe idea The cops will assume you’re a thug People will assume you’re a thug I didn’t have a hoodie on I– shit. I didn’t even have any fucking snacks in my hand And I felt like that easily could have been a Trayvon Martin situation if either those women were armed or was really that racist – As a Black woman with the platform that I have, I feel like it is right for me to speak about social injustice that goes on in America every single day I live in it I spent four years at my university fighting social injustice I got to have fun, but on the side, I was in the library up until 4 AM writing letters, documents, researching my own college degree program, trying to fight racial injustice I’ve never felt like I had an opportunity in my college program I never felt like I was ever gonna get the same opportunity in the industry that I wanna go into There’s been plenty of times I’ve just been even afraid to speak up But being 23 years old today and feeling comfortable enough to tell people out loud that I’m willing to die to speak for those who aren’t being heard is sad Death doesn’t scare me, ’cause if I don’t speak for those who can’t be heard right now, what am I doing with my platform? – I grew up in part of the Jim Crow era That’s part of my experience I remember as a little girl, I went to all-Black elementary school up until sixth grade And then around seventh grade, on the weekends going uptown with my father, there was a little ice cream parlor, and Blacks could not go inside the parlor to get ice cream We had to stand outside

and receive our ice cream cones through a window And one thing I wanna say is that, you know, these memories never go away I’ve heard some psychiatrists say that we have 60,000 or more hours of memory, or like a tape recorder They never go away from the memory, and they never go away from your body It’s like a pained body, and you just carry this with you throughout life It’s like there’s a knife in you, and then someone just keeps twisting the knife, you know? It’s like continued trauma, and you just never get over it It’s like it’s compounded trauma – I was coming home one day I was in my work truck I do HVAC, do installation And supposedly, I ran a red light So, this white lady cop pulls me over You know, I’m already nervous Even though I’m in my work truck, I’m nervous I put my hands on my steering wheel, and the white lady cop’s walking up– I already seen her, you know, in the rearview She puts her hands on her hip where her gun’s at I’m like, “Oh, man.” You know what I’m saying? She walks up to the window I have my window rolled down And I asked her I was like, “What am I being pulled over for?” “Oh, you ran a red light.” I was like, “I didn’t run a red light.” “Yes, you ran a red light.” So, she was upset that I was crossing her that I ran a red light So, usually, you run a red light, they ask you for your license, your registration, your insurance, and stuff like that, the regular stuff No. She said, “Turn the car off and step out the car.” I said, “For what?!” “Don’t question me Get out the car.” I said, “What? That’s the– The hell’s going on?!” So, got out the car She spread my legs She searches me “You got any drugs on you? You got any weapons on you? You got any weapons on your truck? You got any guns in your truck? Got any drugs in your truck?” I said, “No, it’s a work thing You see on the side of the truck, it says HVAC.” She wasn’t trying to hear that And then she calls back up Three or four other cops pull up behind Then she puts me in the back of her cop car So, her and her other, you know, white officers are talking I’m in the back of the cop car I’m thinking to myself– I was like, “Man, if I looked like Leonardo DiCaprio or Dylan from 90210,” I was like, “I wonder if she would’ve pulled me over.” Was it because I was a Black man you pulled me over and you said I looked suspicious? I’m coming home from work So, then they came to the back of the cop car. They said, “Oh, you’re clear to go,” you know, “Everything’s cool You can keep on moving. We’re sorry.” I said, “Sorry?” I’m like, “What was all that for?” – My situation, my stories are, I am 100% sure, remarkably similar to every other African American person So, what I would choose to do today rather than share specific stories about being called the N-word or being followed around a store or not being helped in a store or being pulled over by the cops or losing opportunities, rather than do that, I would just want to say and put the message out there that it’s time for African Americans and those that consider them allies and supporters of African Americans to do what needs to be done Voting Do what needs to be done Voting to get the people in our country that are in office that feel as if African Americans and their lives are not valuable, get them out of office – A few months ago, there was this girl at the park, and I wanted to play with her So, I asked, “Do you wanna play with me?” And she said no I was wondering why, so I asked, “Why?” And she said, “Because you’re Black.” And I didn’t really understand what that meant, but she didn’t wanna play with me So, I was upset I don’t think other kids should have to go through what I went through, because it doesn’t feel good to be rejected by other people – And a few weeks ago, my mom, my sister, and I, we were riding bikes, and a group of kids came up to us and called us the N-word And I didn’t know what that meant, but I saw their faces and I saw what they were trying to say to me, and I was just upset And I don’t want other people to feel the way that I do, so I just encourage you to be nice to other people no matter what race or no matter what skin color they are, to be kind and treat others the way that you wanna be treated – Now, I know what I need to do, and what I need to do is spread awareness and protest peacefully,

because we need a change in America When you see something, you act upon it For example, the motto that everybody knows, the motto that we were taught in elementary school growing up as children, if you see something, you say something, and it’s time to say something, and it’s time to act – I grew up in Kansas in a small town, and I remember during my sixth grade year that I was experiencing a lot of name-calling, the N-word, tar baby, etc., being pushed around and all that And I remember being really, really frustrated and expressing that to my mom And she said, “Faith, the next time someone calls you the N-word, I want you to ask the teacher what it means.” So, the next day, I go to school, and we’re in class, and my white classmate calls me the N-word And I remember being really, really scared, my heart beating so fast, and I raised my hand And I stand up and I ask the teacher, “What does the N-word mean?” I said, “He called me the N-word What does it mean?” I remember her being flustered and turning beet red and almost angry even, and she sent us both to the principal’s office And I remember sitting there, and the principal asking me if I was okay, which surprised me, and then asked me what had happened, and I told him And I remember my classmate just saying, “I didn’t say that I didn’t say that.” And I remember just looking at him I didn’t say anything to him I just stared at him And then I looked back at the principal and I said, “Can I go now?” And he said yes And I remember leaving that principal’s office feeling empowered It was a profound experience for me And I don’t know if the boy– I don’t remember if he was sent to detention or if he was suspended, but I do know that from the sixth grade to the ninth grade, I don’t remember being called the N-word or being bullied or pushed around And… it was– I was profoundly conscious of racism That experience created a no-nonsense in me, a self-advocacy not only for myself but for the underdog, a fearlessness I go right through fear I am scared, but I will go right down the middle of it And it created this importance to ask the questions that are icky, that are tough even though you may not get the answer that you want or get an answer – So, this happened about six years ago I had just arrived to LA from northern California I was looking for work, and I found a job as a server at this high-end fancy restaurant in downtown LA About three to four months in, one of my bar managers, he approached me, and it happened so fast I don’t even know if anyone even saw it He approached me and he whispered, like a racial epithet, like a racial slur in my ear, and then he proceeded to– he grabbed me by the genitals He grabbed my private area So, I wasn’t really angry or upset I was really, really scared and I didn’t know who to tell or who to talk to You know, I just kind of held it in And it was kind of this downward spiral for me as just a person It was very dehumanizing Like, I would be in the parking lot drinking, crying my eyes out I just didn’t wanna be in that type of environment, you know? And it just kind of just– Eventually, I left the job, but I’ll just never forget what that one action did and what it put me through emotionally simply because of my differentness – The day before my junior year of high school, a white boy at my school and his friend at another school made a video saying, “[Censored] all [censored] We will kill all [censored],” and then proceeded to post it all over social media So, the next day, everyone goes to school thinking that these kids are going to receive some sort of punishment Instead, they have a great day, and they’re actually escorted out of their classes, because our school was afraid that the 3% of the Black kids at our predominantly white school would “harm” them Yet, we’re the ones that felt threatened, because they were the ones

that threatened us, not the other way around The kid at the other school actually received a punishment, and the one at ours didn’t until the video that was released on social media reached the news station And I guess our school felt obligated to give him some sort of punishment, which was an in-school suspension This incident only occurred a few times during the year And the whole time, this kid never felt pressed, and he never apologized for his actions – I had to teach my son to make a copy of his license, registration, and car insurance, and have it up on the dashboard, because I feared that if they asked for license and registration, and he goes in his glove box, it would rattle, and they’d think it’s a weapon, and they would shoot him So, I always told him, “My hands are on the dashboard, sir License and registration’s up here I have the originals in there if you want me to get it I can give you this right now.” That’s what we have to do during this time – Put simply, I’ve been through a lot just because of the color of my skin I’ve gotten into fights I’ve been racially profiled at job interviews I’ve been stopped by the police with no probable cause I had somebody yesterday say, as a “joke,” because of what’s going on, “I’m surprised that you haven’t been shot in the street yet.” So, there’s a problem, and we need everybody to stand with us to find a solution – I live in a country that, despite how I choose to follow the laws and try to abide by them so I can live to see another day, most people see me as a potential hashtag, as the next video of brutality, as another common statistic And that’s not okay I have two brothers and one little sister, and every single day, I’m in fear that this world is gonna harm them I’m in constant fear for my own life And we as a people in general need to do better People love to say, “All lives matter.” But until you value Black lives the same way that you value all these other lives that you do, that statement makes no sense I want to live long enough to see a change in this world – Me being mixed, I’m half Black and I’m half Latino And I am one of the lightest people in my family on my Black side of the family And every time that I see them or I leave or depart from them, I always say, “Stay safe Make sure you’re good You know, call me when you get there.” And it’s sad to me that maybe one of these people, one of the families of the victims happened to say that for the last time and didn’t get a text back, you know? And just saw on the news that their loved one had passed When I tell you that that hurts you know, that hurts! – This entire thing, it’s horrible Innocent blood was spilled He didn’t deserve to die And the cop should be charged more than just third degree He deserves first degree He did that on purpose He knew what he was doing People were telling him to stop, and he didn’t stop He’s completely in the wrong for that I don’t see how people can defend him after what he did! He murdered someone! An innocent person! He’s dead now He can’t bring him back He’s gone. Do you understand that? He’s not coming back One of these days, it could be me or my dad or my brothers just because of some stupid mistake I can get pulled over and shot any day You know, I’ve been called the N-word so many times before I could even– before I knew what it meant,

I was called that, when I was four When I first started going outside, I was called that, not just by kids but by adults, by random people It’s unjustified – Other black people or other African Americans would tell me that I’d be okay, you know, because I’m lighter skinned or because I appear to be a little bit lighter than they are And then, when I got around my other race of friends, whether it be Caucasian or Asian or Latino or anything like that, they would tell me that I would be oppressed, because no matter what, I’m still Black And they’re right I just really wish that, you know, one day people realize that we’re all human, our hearts all beat the same, we all feel the same, and we all should care about one another regardless of what we look like or what we think – Both of my parents grew up Jim Crow You know, this is generational, this trauma that’s inflicted With the very troubled and violent history of this country, it needs to be addressed, and now seems to be, I guess, the day of reckoning, where you got to either put up or shut up Clearly, we are living in two different Americas, where people can afford to put on blinders to blatant social injustice, blatant systemic racism We won’t see an end to this until everybody really stands in it and walks the walk and talks to talk So, that’s why it’s frustrating to me as of now – I’ve grown up in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, and I’ve considered myself very grateful for I’ve grown up in a middle-class family, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend private school education But with that being said, I still have the disadvantage of being a Black man in America In recent times, we’ve seen a lot of brutality I’m not sure if you can hear the sirens in the back, but I live in a quiet neighborhood, and there’s a lot of chaos going around in our world right now I think that it has been a really big eye-opener for people who aren’t Black to see the constant struggle that we have to go through I should never have to feel afraid walking from my school to my home or from my home to a grocery store, yet I do Black people have always lit themselves on fire to keep America warm And now that we’re done being burned, the response is bitter and cold And that’s unfair It’s unjust And with no justice, there is no peace. Thank you