Black Lives Matter!!

 

“I can’t Breathe”

by Zakianna Johnson 

“I can’t breathe, see his knee is on my neck as I take my last breathe 

I can’t breathe, my life is ending now as everyone sits here and watch 

I can’t breathe, someone please help me I’m begging you 

I CAN’T BREATHE, boom I’m dead another black man gone 

I can’t breathe,  George Floyd May 25, 2020

I can’t breathe, Eric Garner July 17, 2014

I can’t breathe, you shot me Tamir Rice November 22, 2014

Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Aebery, Breonna Taylor, how many more.

How many more will it take for America to realize the hate

I can’t breathe, I want to but it’s hard, it hurts, I can’t see

I can’t feel, I’m dieing, I love you momma, I’m gone.”

As a young black African American teenager it hurts to see that my culture has to destroy things just for us to get a point across. BLM ( black lives matter) is more than just a protest, more than a hashtag, it’s our lives. We say black lives matter but we still aren’t heard more of the less we still aren’t safe. Day after day the death of a black man or child or woman is on the news. Why? Because there are racist cops who will do anything just to harm us. They say “I saw a weapon” but they saw a hairbrush. He was resisting but in reality I asked you why was I being detained.

Video proof of cops, racist, KKK, and all and yet the white man doesn’t go to jail for long. Oh but when it comes to a black man killing anyone they get the death sentence. There have been plenty of times and opportunities for a change to happen. It’s so sad that I have to grow up in a world where I could be killed just because of the color of my skin. It’s sad because young boys and girls have to see how messed up the world is. No parent should have to sit down with their kid and tell them that they could die at a young age, because a racist police officer or man or woman will fear them because of the race they were born into.  

What did Sam Cooke say? “A change is Gonna Come” and yet we still haven’t seen it. When the color of my skin is seen as a weapon, I will never be unarmed. I will never be not seen as a threat, a murderer, a demon, a vicious animal. Everyday an Black African American faces a racist encounter. We are free, but it really doesn’t feel like it. We as people as human beings shouldn’t have to always wonder if today will be the day we die. If we’ll be talking our last breath in a matter of seconds and minutes. The world needs to change and it needs to change fast. 

I’ll leave you with these quotes and maybe it’ll help you realize why rioting was the only option that was left.

“It’s hard to elevate when this country’s ran by whites

Judging me by my skin color and my blackness” – Joyner Lucas 

“Is it a crime, to fight, for what is mine?” – Tupac Shakur

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal” – Martin Luther King Jr

The last quote left an engraving in my spirit because there have been many other races that have protested with us. They have contributed during the protest by speaking up and marching with us. But there are also the ones that aren’t doing anything to help us spread the word. We wanted the protest to be peaceful, but instead they were violent. We wanted to get a point across but instead we were called hoodlums.

Point is we are not hoodlums, we are not ratchets, we are not ghetto and we are humans. 

We are America’s people just like everyone else in this country. We are Black African Americans, We are Black Lives Matter and until everyone gets it into their heads we will not stop until our voices are heard. 

Long live my black queens and kings 

Justice for Ahmaud

Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was gunned down on February 23, 2020, during one of his jogs. Ahmaud was a 25-year-old African American.

On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery was in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, GA when Gregory and Travis McMichael confronted him with two guns. Travis McMicheal then gunned down Ahmaud, not once, not twice, but five times.

Ahmaud Arbery is not the first African American killed or gunned down for no reason.

There have been plenty of cases and where young African Americans have been killed for the color of their skin. Such as: Trayvon Martin, age 17;  Jordan Edwards, age 15; Micheal Brown, age 18.

The racism needs to stop and sadly it hasn’t. As a black African American it makes me scared to go anywhere because it makes me feel like what if I’m next. We as people, as human beings, shouldn’t have to go through something like that. The African American community is constantly taking losses.

As a child, having to view these crimes, and seeing no justice being served, is stomach aching. It’s traumatizing really. Ahmaud Arbery was doing nothing but jogging, simply working out like any other person, and was targeted by people so hateful and sinful. They felt the need to hurt, and not only harm, but kill, Ahmaud Arbery.

And yet, they still aren’t sentenced to the death penalty. If it had been reversed, and Ahmaud had killed them, he would’ve been sentenced to the death penalty so quick. 

The justice system in America is sooo messed it literally makes no sense that someone loses their life and isn’t served the proper justice they deserve.

Everyone wants to scream Black Lives Matter but the question that should be asked is do they? Do black lives really matter? Cause at this point, we don’t know what to believe anymore.

The world is so messed up that we have to constantly relive the past. It’s sad that we can’t just live our lives and be free. 

So, I would like to end this article with saying long live Ahmaud Arbery and #justiceforAhmaud. 

Seniors missing graduation

Since the start of COVID-19 seniors have been a bit on the depressive side. Many seniors, including my own brother, have been in a panic when it comes to long distance graduation. My parents and my brother have been on the spectrum of trying to get prepared for the day of his virtual graduation.

When it comes to it, most of the seniors I know are really hurt right now. They’re upset that they are not able to have the graduation that they have been longing for their whole lives; the day where they are finally free from the whips of high school and are on to their new lives going on to be adults.

Not only are the seniors upset, but so are their parents and siblings. As a sibling, I’ve always awaited the time where I got to record my older sibling walk across the stage in their cap and gown. But since COVID-19, I am not able to have that experience. It’s also upsetting to my parents because they’ve longed for the day they were able to send my brother off to prom, and to see him walk across that stage.

Not only are seniors upset about graduation, but they were also upset that they weren’t able to have their prom. I’ve spoken to a couple of the 2020 graduates themselves and asked for their input on the matter.

Willie Wright Class of 2020 graduate 

I first had a conversation with none other than the man himself, (my brother) Willie Wright, a graduating senior at Como Park Senior High. Willie is a 2020 graduate with a football scholarship to Minnesota State University.  He said, “It’s so crazy because every other class year such as 2001-2019 got to walk across the stage, and I’m not able to. Those are the most memorable moments in our life. Even prom, and I wasn’t able to have that, hopefully this will all be over soon.”

Chaniyah Fenner Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then had the opportunity to speak with Chaniyah Fenner, a senior also at Como Park Senior High. She said that, “I am upset about the virtual graduation. I don’t like it at all, I understand that there’s a virus going on and everything, but they already took away our prom and senior night, and now they’re taking away our graduation. It’s just messed up.” 

William Albert Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then reached out and spoke to William Albert, who attends Gordon Park High School. He said, “I hate the thought of not being able to walk across the stage, but knowing there’s a strong system of people behind me who are willing to bend for my education, it drives me to do better and prosper moving forward.”

With all of this going on, at least the seniors have something good to look forward to. They get a graduation speaker, who is none other than the man himself, Barack Obama (which is something really amazing).

But I just hope that all the seniors aren’t too upset about this, and I hope they still have a great graduation at home.

The addiction of social media

Zakianna Johnson

Introduction

There’s been many things going on in social media these days. But the addiction to the apps we all have is really bad. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, etc. are all of our lives, especially teenagers.

Now-a-days teenagers don’t know what it was like to just go outside and have fun. And many of them are always at home on their phones on social media. Yes, sometimes it’s fun, but other times it can be affecting their physical and mental health.

How it affects our lives

Social media is like drugs; you get addicted easily. Everyone has some sort of social media on their phone. Whether it’s to stay in contact with friends or family, or to have a laugh or two. But we don’t understand what the effect is on our minds and bodies.

I myself spend about almost a whole day on social media. I spend about 17 hours a day on my phone: texting, scrolling, liking and reacting to people and things on social media. Kids these days are addicted to the app Tik Tok, teens are addicted to Instagram and Snapchat, and adults are addicted to Facebook. 

These apps are toxic, but we love them. We try to take breaks, but it doesn’t work.

I spoke to my parents and asked them, “Do you guys have an addiction to social media?” My mom responded with, “Yes, I do have an addiction to social media because I get on because I see my family members on and that’s the way I communicate with them because I’m far away.”

My dad responded with, “I used to be really addicted to it. Like I used to not be able to sleep without it. But now I usually only go on social media when I do my live videos, and I speak on reality and show my family. You know, because I’m showing a side of me and my family and our morals and values.”

As I sat to finish writing this story, I came to realize that maybe I could take a break from social media. I mean, the apps that we have can really damage us and take us off our game. 

Toxic relationships

By: Zakianna Johnson 

You never really know when you’re in a toxic relationship, and for females, it’s harder for us to understand and realize how toxic a lover can be. When it comes to teenagers there are a lot of toxic relationships going on. Cheating, lying, stabbing in the back and more, and for people with depression, it hurts worse. But not even just relationships, friendships can also be toxic. 

Nowadays, there aren’t really many people that you can trust which makes it difficult to form a relationship or friendship. From my experience as a teenager, it makes it hard to have a girlfriend or boyfriend simply because the people that you think love you can just be there to use you. This makes it hurt so bad because you really think that they’re there for you when they’re just there for themselves.

It puts people in pain when someone is just there to use you for what they can get, and not for what they can give. If you’re going to get into a relationship you can’t make that person feel bad about themselves. You’re supposed to be the person that they can run to when they need to escape. You’re supposed to make their problems go away.

You can’t find a love like that nowadays; people are just out to use a person for what that person has. It’s not about love anymore, it’s about what I can get from this person. What can they give me? Or provide me with? How can I make it seem like I’m here for support when I’m just here to get what I want? Most of the time these types of people are insecure and non-dependable.

Which goes to the relationship becoming toxic and once the relationship gets toxic you can either stay in a toxic place, or release yourself from it. It’s better to release yourself from it, staying in it can make a person go crazy. Trust issues, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and abuse are all symptoms of a toxic relationship. No person should ever have to go through that. 

Cultural appropriation

Zakianna & Kiana 

2/18/2020

Appropriation of black culture 

Like the above image asks, “What if?” That’s the question that all African Americans ask. Nowadays Black culture isn’t as appreciated as it should be. People believe that racism is over but in reality it isn’t. It’s still affecting African American people. 

Many people try and appreciate the Black culture. But do they know how African American people feel when they do what they do? People see appreciating Black culture as doing things that they feel are right but in reality are actually really wrong and hurtful. Like for instance, when other races get box braids or get extensions added to their hair people react to them with positive comments. But for an African American woman or girl to do the same thing it’s considered “ghetto” or it “isn’t cute.” 

These are the types of things that go on everyday and people don’t seem to realize it, but it happens. The caucasian community loves to make fun of the Black community by calling them things like “hoodrats,” “ghetto,” or ”ratchet.” These are words commonly used everyday to bring down the spirits and hopes of the African American culture. 

We ourselves as African Americans are proud to be who we are. But just being proud really isn’t enough anymore. Other cultures and ethnicities don’t know what it’s like to be in our shoes. They don’t know what it’s like to be called out for trying to protect your hair or being fired for wearing color in your hair which they call ”inappropriate.” As an African American it’s hard to live life when you’re constantly judged during it. 

African American women are constantly judged everyday for trying to protect their hair. When they wear box braids, or twist, or any form of weave they’re called ghetto, but African American people wear weaves because they like it and think it is pretty.

Many famous people have celebrated cultural appropriation. But little did they know that non famous people were hurt by them because they were not of color and did not look okay wearing what they had done. Kim Kardashian once had cornrows.

They did not look right because it was just not a look for her. Instead of doing multiple cornrows she should do just 2. In my opinion when non African American people try and celebrate cultural appropriation they should try and involve African American people or, just give us credit for our looks and how we look and dress. 

With that being said, cultural appropriation is a big thing in the world. 

Sex trafficking nationally

 

Minnesota is such a quiet place no one would think something like sex trafficking would be going on. It is known for teens to do risky things in the bathroom at malls and movies in Minnesota. But no one really knows if they’re forced to interact in these sexual encounters. There was a total of 28 victims forced into human sex trafficking last year during the “Final Four” in March of 2019, also sex trafficking is huge during the Super Bowl, which Minnesota hosted not that long ago. 

All 28 of those victims were rescued, including one minor, and there was a total of 58 men and women that were arrested for these crimes.

But this isn’t only happening in Minnesota, it’s a worldwide problem. Over 20.9 million are victims of human trafficking globally. This is occurring everyday and is ruining little girls and women’s lives. 

The average age of when a sex trafficking victim is first sold is 13years old. The ages go up to as high as 30 years old. One pimp of who was a sex trafficker, but ultimately was caught said, “The goal is to get the girls as dependent as possible. Mentally you’ve gotta burn into their brains you’re the only one…You’re god. Once you’ve got that down and they’re ready to work…Then you instal the fear…The wrath of god. If they mess up, there’s a price to pay, and they know it’s a heavy price.”

Most everyone knows about sex trafficking from what they see and hear in movies and the news but no one has ever sat down to actually listen to the victims instead of interviewing them to get famous off their stories.

So, as we conducted research, we went around to the students of Highland Park Senior High School and asked their opinions on the topic. We interviewed multiple students but only a few of these students’ opinions really stood out. The same two questions were asked: “How do you feel about human sex trafficking?” and “What are your emotions towards the victims that go through sex trafficking?”. 

Jerry Flores a sophomore attending Highland Park Senior High said, “Well sex trafficking is a controversial topic and isn’t well thought out or more of the less thought of. I feel that there should be more laws about how to compensate these families when going through these type of experiences.” 

Brianna Avalos said, “It has messed up young girls’ lives because they don’t experience things that everybody else does because of it.” She also said. “It makes me feel bad because they have to go through it everyday and they don’t have a normal lifestyle that a normal person would have.”

Another Highland Park student said, “The authorities need to do a better job regulating it.”

We then asked our parents about sex trafficking and here’s what they had to say:

“It’s horrible and they need to have a specific force team for just sex trafficking.”

“I feel that this kind of thing happens almost everyday and for these young girls to go through something like that it’s really really sad. I feel that the police should do more to stop the creeps and pedophiles who use these young girls for their bodies.”

According to the U.N.-backed International Labor Organization (ILO) globally, it is estimated that up to 40 million people today are affected by this industry. In 2019 alone, per the Institute for Sport and Social Justice’s “Shut Out Trafficking” program, there were 2,907 individuals arrested, suspected or charged with human trafficking activities in the United States. More than 400 people over 18 years of age were rescued from being trafficked and nearly 115 children under age 18 were freed. There were 83 new laws passed and 483 community-based initiatives to fight human trafficking.

There are plenty of groups and organizations working and helping the police in different states to stop this crime from happening. So, if you, or anyone, are in need of help please don’t hesitate to call the National Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to Polaris Project’s BeFree Textline at 233733. And please take the information provided to you and spread the word; it’ll help a lot of kids and women.