Jessica Bennett, who reports on gender and culture for The Times, spoke to Zee, Tiana Day, Shayla Turner and Brianna Chandler – four teenage girls who organized and are part of a protest the young generation at the forefront of racial justice activism.
Zee and Tiana, none of you had ever protested before. What drove you?
Zee: It’s crazy. I’ve never been to a protest like never before. I was inspired by what people were doing across America, but there was no protest in Nashville at that time. I thought why doesn’t Tennessee do anything? Why are they silent?
So I thought enough was enough. We will do something.
Tiana: I’ve never been an activist to me. But this movement lit a fire in me. I live in San Ramon, a suburb in California, and grew up with people who didn’t look like me all my life. And I kept trying to adapt. I would stay away from the sun so I don’t tan. I would straighten my hair every day. There are so many things I did to suppress who I was and what my culture was. I just never felt like me.
But I always had something like cooking thing, this boiling passion in my body, wanting to change the world. We bought three boxes of water because we thought it was enough. It was about four miles straight from people who were there to support the movement.
How did your families react?
Shayla: My mother actually found out that I protested through the newspaper. She was in Walgreens and made a double shot because I was on the cover of the The Chicago Tribune.
What about your generation, what people are doing wrong?
Brianna: That our anger is not valid, that we have no reason to be angry, that we have no reason to get upset. You know, there is this very popular Malcolm X quote: “The most disrespectful person in America is the black woman.”
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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