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This story is a part of Lit Mag: The REDEFINED issue.
I was never proud of being black because I was adopted into a white family. I never felt comfortable in family pictures because I was the only black person and I felt out of place. Whenever I would go places I felt like people treated me differently. I never told my mom about this because I didn’t want her to feel bad because it wasn’t her fault. My mom tells me to be safe every day and be nice to cops if they approach me. Sometimes I wonder if she would say that if I were white? If I were white, would I have to worry about if I’m going to make it home that night? If a cop is going to approach me?
I hated being black because a lot of people thought I was a troublemaker. In 7th grade, I lived in a white neighborhood and people watched my every move. I knew people were thinking that I looked sketchy when in reality I am a nice person and care for people.
I love the Black Lives Matter movement that developed around the time all the police shootings, protests, and elections arose. One time I was in a class discussion about Black Lives Matter. When a classmate stood up and said, “I don’t understand why black people are getting all this attention, like who cares.”
I remember just thinking, of course you don’t understand, you don’t come from the background I do. So I told him, “It matters because police brutality is racist. Cops are killing young black men and women. It is getting out of control and people are losing their lives.” He understood. And I realized I have to stand up for my race and speak up for us.
An event that made me change my perspective was when Michelle Obama became First Lady. When she would walk on stage in front of big crowds not caring what people thought, expressing herself and loving who she was, I realized I want to be that confident. She and President Obama are so inspiring for black people. We had a black president and we are making history.
Now, I love that I’m black. I love the history I learned in school and over social media. We had to fight to come this far and I should love my skin and my background. I’m proud to be different. I am proud that I was born African American. I am proud to talk about my history especially since I am the only black person in my family. My family doesn’t really understand the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement because they have not been exposed to it or have been around a lot of black people. I hope to help them understand where I come from.
I am a 16-year-old upcoming criminal justice lawyer. I love studying law and learning about my community. I love listening to politics and watching the news. My future goal gives me knowledge about what’s going on around the world. I love arguing and debating with people. I want to fight for people in jail and help people in need. I am inspired by Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer, and my grandpa who was a judge. They give me strength and I look up to them.