Following the murder of George Floyd, I witnessed the country change. I saw my peers mobilize in a way that they never had before and I was filled with a burning desire for justice. Police brutality is not a new concept in America, but there was something so unsettling and chilling about the way George Floyd was killed. In the past, police have often excused their actions, claiming that they acted out of self-defense and out of fear for their own lives, but watching the video of George Floyd pinned to the ground, struggling for air, and saying that he could not breathe for 8 minutes and 46 seconds sparked a rage inside of myself and others that could not go unaddressed. Black people have been fighting the same fight for centuries, and it seems as though whenever we take one step forward towards equality, we also take at least five steps back. George Floyd has now become a part of an ongoing list of too many black bodies that have been taken from this world far too soon. Out of fear for myself, for my parents, my nieces and my nephew, for my three older brothers, and for all black people living in America today, I knew that George Floyd’s death had to mean something. I knew that this time had to be different; this time needed to be the last time. I started going to protests whenever I could, which eventually meant going to protests every day. As I marched for hours with friends and family and gathered to listen to different speakers and policymakers among crowds of thousands, I was given just a little bit of hope. I once thought that being young meant that my voice would not be heard and that I couldn’t make real change, but standing alongside thousands of people who were also fighting against systemic racism with me brought me a newfound sense of power because I was fighting for something much larger than myself. As a young person, my generation can be the one to bring change. We are the ones who can vote the right people into office, speak out against injustices, and demand to see radical improvement throughout American society. No longer should police officers get away with murdering innocent black people. No longer will we let their excuses suffice. We will not stop until we see real change, and real change starts today.
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