Young people can work to dismantle systemic oppression and create equity
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BRONX TIMES R 12 EPORTER, SEPT. 18-24, 2020 BTR
BY NAZIRA CASE
Racial equity means removing
systemic and racism barriers. It
means a better society where everyone
is allowed to succeed. This is not
a utopia, however, someone should
not have to be set back by a society
and a system because of their skin
color and other features.
My African uncle said “all lives
matter.” I explained to him that all
lives can’t matter until Black lives
matter. We talked and he got it. My
African parents were confused as to
why I participated in a protest. They
called it “nonsense” and that it wasn’t
going to solve anything. I told them
we young people have the power to
lead right now in our communities
and that is what I’m doing.
Black kids everywhere are exhausted,
including me. We go
through school, work and life while
feeling everyday there is a new Black
person killed because of their skin
color and systemic racism. We teach
people and refute their ignorance.
We take the power back but they only
televise the movement when the violence
occurs without showing how
the violence started. I have had too
many conversations where whole
group chats are expressing how
draining it is just to be a Black kid at
this time. We see the hate the world
is spewing out towards us and others
choose to ignore. I’m tired, but I’m
I volunteer in my community
to dismantle systemic oppression
with NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project
(TAP) where I’m learning more about
civil liberties, community organization,
activism and more. I have lobbied,
protested and helped host town
halls spreading a message about systemic
racism within schools and my
community. Currently I am working
on a TED Talk on environmental
injustices within NYC focused
on how Black and brown people are
suffering disproportionally from
coronavirus. You can fi nd it on my
I advocate for us all to hold our
government accountable for causing
and allowing systemic oppression to
occur. Email, Tweet, and call your
local politicians to show that we will
not be silent. We understand everything
is against us. We need change
in government. Our livelihoods have
to shift so that people stop dying. I am
asking you to join or continue fi ghting
for environmental justice, and
to be aware that our underserved
are getting hurt the most because of
these injustices. There needs to be
reform in the government within all
these factors to help all New Yorkers.
Black and brown people have less access
to healthy foods as our neighborhoods
are in food deserts. So let’s
expand SNAP which gives healthy
options to people. Let’s put it into
our curriculum the importance of
healthy food and how it literally affects
our day to day. Let’s put air fi lters
on schools near heavy traffi c and
pollution. Let’s stop using Harlem to
fund luxury malls and invest back
into the community. Without change
within government we are devaluing
our Black and brown people and
putting barriers to their success
I work to grow my skills and
expand my network. This summer
I participated in Bank of America’s
Student Leaders program. I was 1
of the 5 New York City students chosen
among roughly 200 applicants. I
attended webinars on environmental
justice and food insecurity. I’ve
become familiar with the internal
structure of a non-profi t, took part in
the grant-writing process, and realized
how important it is to work as a
team. My experience combined with
the network of young leaders that I’ve
had the opportunity to connect with,
and our shared desire to be agents of
change gives me hope of the impact
we will continue to make on our society
and within our communities. I
look forward to using the tools I’ve
developed and the network I’ve established
to found and direct my own
nonprofi t one day.
I encourage all young people to
realize they are able to make an impact.
Whether it’s in your household,
among your peers, or within your
community – you have power and infl
uence, now more than ever it should
be put to good use.
Nazira Case is a Bronx resident
and Bank of America Student Leader.
Nazira Case Photo courtesy of Nazira Case