Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America 

We invited East Bay residents to share their thoughts and words. Here's what they had to say.

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The tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling last week evoked cries of outrage, despair, and an urgent need for change. That's when the Express decided to give this paper over to readers, in an attempt to unite and amplify those feelings. And, despite the short notice, dozens of people sent us their words and thoughts. We are truly humbled.

This issue's front cover features names of Black and brown victims in the last decade. But the following words speak to this country's legacy of prejudice and injustice toward Black men, women, and children ­— that must end now.


Cuffs and Coffins

Black faces, weeping mothers and screaming babies. Another loss of a father, son, friend. The Black Man.

When is it going to end?

Time and time again. The same headline.

A different place, different face, but always the same race.

We have more to offer this world and other spaces to fill ... outside of your cuffs and coffins.

Natasha LaGrone

Oakland


I Want To Forget

For the past few days, I have struggled getting out of bed. I didn't have much trouble when one of my favorite singers, Christina Grimmie, was shot and killed. I laid still after the shooting in Orlando, not crying loud so as not to disturb my family.

But after these recent police shootings targeted toward Black men, I have started having scary thoughts: "I don't want to do this. I can't do this. I don't want to do this anymore." The pain is so, so immense.

Truthfully: I want to forget.

Growing up in Oakland, I've been aware of gun violence from a young age. I detached myself from the disturbing feeling it brought. Then, my brother's friends started dying. My friend's friends started dying. I was suddenly aware that I was not safe. I am not safe as a person living in Oakland, not as a Black person, not as a queer person. Not around police.

I can't describe to you the feeling that came onto me upon realizing that, for my entire life, I have never been safe. Maybe I already knew. I think I did. But for the first time, I've been forced to look at the facts straight in the eye. All of that truth, it stared at me deep and said, "I've got you." And it's been hard for me to breathe ever since.

I shared my worries about thoughts on not wanting to do "this" on my Facebook page. People started commenting that it was normal, that they felt the same. And maybe it is normal. But it isn't right, and I can't brush it off.

It felt strange to know that so many of my non-Black friends were going to protests and vigils while I preferred to stay at home. I am Black — does that mean I can take all of this pain?

The answer is no. I will never go to a protest. I cannot go to a vigil. I know myself well enough to know I am not emotionally capable of handling it.

But I understand the pain. The last time I was too depressed to get out of bed was a year ago, in the lowest point of my life. Not everyone has experienced this before. I want to say to all the people who are finding themselves steeped in despair: It is OK if you do not want to go out and fight. It is OK if you don't want to turn to social media.

Even the greatest soldiers have to rest after war.

Nicole Lovett

Oakland


Breathing and Black

"Why did they kill him?"

"Did they kill him because he was wearing a red shirt?"

"That's unfair."

Those were the words coming from my four-year old Black son as we watched television and together witnessed the brutality and killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers.

So, in my four-year-old's mind, the only connection he could make for what he was seeing was that a man was killed because he wore a red shirt, and it was wrong for police officers to take his life.

What I didn't tell my son is that Alton was killed not because his shirt was red, but because his skin was black, his gender was male, and that, one day, he will be looked upon the same way: a threat because he is breathing and Black.

I know enough to know that my son's threat index is rising by the year. My son and I have robust conversations about everything from Curious George and Fireman Sam to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But I'm also beginning to incorporate race and social justice into our conversations, which he tries to understand but doesn't yet.

Will my son sell DVDs and CDs outside of a store and have the police called on him? Will he be driving in a car with his girlfriend, like Philando Castile, and be pulled over by police — and within minutes be shot to death in the front seat?

To all these things I say: I don't know. I can't predict every experience in his future, I can only prepare him for it. I strive for him to be well-educated, kind, strong, confident, and enlightened. But none of these things are a shield against racism, implicit bias and oppression.

What we must realize is that these instances of police interactions with Black men, boys, women and girls is not new. What is new is the technology to record it, and social media to instantly live-stream, tweet and post. These images provide us a window for what many in the Black community have experienced for centuries, but with it now captured for all of us to see, the trauma and the pain is that much deeper. We must recognize that we have all witnessed the final seconds and ending of life: blood seeping out of their bodies, arms and legs twitching, painful moaning and finally their last breath.

So what do I want? There is a menu of ideas out there from body cameras, better police training and prosecution, but more than anything I want my son and all black women and men to be seen as human. Let's start there.

Sheryl Lane

Richmond


The Same High School

Philando Castile and I went to the same high school. We walked the same halls, waited patiently for the bell to ring, and may have even scored the coveted fifth floor lockers. But that's where the similarities end. As diverse as Central was, and I imagine continues to be, it was still segregated — often by race but definitely by privilege. I was in a group of friends, primarily middle class and college-bound, that didn't often think about the color of our skin or how it would impact our lives because none of us are Black. Philando and I may have walked the same halls, but our lives outside of Central were always bound to be different.

My sister and I have talked a lot about being brown but not Black. Often, we are the "safe" person to hire at a job, we are the "model minority." In our Indian American community, we talk about what it means to not be white: the racism, the intolerance that we have experienced. But we don't often recognize the privilege that comes with not being Black. In our communities we must also recognize that Black Lives Matter, period.

Menaka Mohan

Oakland


Nobody is Safe

For as long as I can remember, I have been a witness of the violence between police and Black people in my community. However, the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have brought to light the shocking, modern-day reality of this issue: nobody is safe anymore.

As a twenty-year-old Black woman, I am terrified that, one day, I will receive a call that one of my family members or friends is no longer here. I am troubled to know that, when I have children, I will have to explain why they are not safe in their own skin. That their story or innocence won't mean a thing in the eyes of those who are called "to protect and to serve."

Most of all, I am afraid that if something happens to any of my loved ones, I will not be surprised. Despite dozens of traumatizing and mind-numbing videos, evidence has been continuously overlooked and dismissed. We have sadly fallen victim to the mass desensitization of the death of the Black body. Regardless of if you are a cafeteria worker, if you have your child in the backseat, if you are licensed to carry, if you are innocent — if you are Black, you may be next.

Natalia R. Delery

Queens, N.Y.


We Are Doing Nothing Wrong

I cannot go a day without watching the news or reading a report stating a young Black male or female has been assaulted, brutalized, shot, or killed by a police officer. The usual explanations are "It looked like he/she had a weapon," or the go-to "I was in fear of my life."

Every moment we breathe, our life is on the line because of the color of our skin. Some may say, "Well if you just said sir" or ask, "Were you doing something you shouldn't have been doing or somewhere you shouldn't have been?" It's as if our Blackness immediately signals trouble.

Our elders will tell us to behave properly or act a certain way, to avoid the white glare. But I am here to tell you: We are doing nothing wrong.

Our lives, our mere existence on this planet, causes discomfort, aggression, and contempt. Ever since we have been brought to America, there has been a level of malice directed toward the Black man and woman that can only be equaled by the treatment of the Native American. Why are we hated? I have no idea. But I do know changing the way we dress, the way we talk, act in public, or walk around in this world will not matter.

Being Black is automatically being a target for harm, and I don't want any Black man or woman to blame themselves for the way the world sees or treats them. It is not your fault.

LeRon Barton

San Francisco


Surreality of Injustice

I probably don't need to tell you that there is injustice in this country, in the world. Perhaps you see it every day. Probably. I imagine it leads many people to becoming an officer — an urge to strive to prevent injustice, because it happened to them somehow. And it felt wrong.

In the social-media era, it is hard to escape the reality, or surreality, of this injustice. We are flooded with information on an alarming scale, to the point where we become jaded. Another targeted mass shooting, another bombing, another innocent Black child, son, father murdered. Another candlelight vigil and "riot." And nothing's gonna change. And it feels wrong, but there's nothing I can do.

I've never written a letter to the police before. I've marched in protests, posted pictures on Facebook, and gone to bed. Good for me, I would think. "You tried." How selfish, really, assuming that I'd really made a difference and really cared. Of course I feel empathetic for those that are lost, but, like I said: Deep down, I'm pretty jaded. And I know nothing of politics. And I have my own shit to deal with.

If I can feel that way, what stops a cop from feeling this way, besides government-appointed authority and support, and powerful weapons? This makes me uneasy.

I'm conflicted, once again. I know that I have power, arguably more than my Black brothers and sisters, as cops continue to prove to us. I have to try. Have to.

So, I start by simply proposing: What are you going to do?

Hannah Knight

Oakland


What Is At Stake

Rage.

Do not despair dear brothers and sisters, terrorism thrives on infecting our hearts and minds with immobilizing fear.

Do not give in.

We thought once police officers wore body cameras killings would stop.

Dontre Hamilton.

We thought if we told our children to not wear hoodies they could be safe.

Eric Garner.

We thought, hashtags, we can't let people forget our names.

John Crawford III.

We took it to the streets.

Michael Brown Jr.

Started a movement.

Tanisha Anderson.

Wrote songs, created art, shared our despair on social media.

Tamir Rice.

And now, what is there left to do?

Sandra Bland.

Our freedom can't wait, not one more hour, not one minute not one second.

White supremacy is a disease that asphyxiates the host slower than the ones that come to contact with it.

We are out of time.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What is at stake?

Our fucking humanity.

Faiza Farah

Oakland


Any Time, Without Reason

What an ironic wake-up call that the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile happened right after July 4. Their destruction at the hands of police shows yet again that American "liberty and justice for all" is a myth, that Black people are not totally free in this country. The demise of these new martyrs, and the probable release of their killers, is so familiar and predictable at this point that it is sickening.

The insult of it amplifies the hopelessness, anger, and despair that Black communities around the country have been feeling for centuries. The sniper killing of police officers at the Dallas protest is very troubling, too. (More killing inspired by injustice!)

But the nation's reaction is the real tragedy. We refuse to grapple with the issues of systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality that caused the deaths of Sterling and Castile (after Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and too many more) that brought about the protest in the first place. We hurry to forget the root causes and deny that this ugly, constant devaluing of Black life is truly part of our national culture.

The police deaths in Dallas — the pain, fear, outrage they bring — present an opportunity for many (especially white) Americans to experience a taste of what Black Americans feel all the time. We must recognize and change the fact that in America Blacks can be killed by police at any time, without reason, like Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.

Umi Vaughan

Oakland


Listen!

#BlackLivesMatter.

Oh, here she goes with that ...

Stop!

Listen.

Yes, you.

Really read these words and let them soak in.

Once again, we're having the argument about why it's #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter.

Have you taken the time to listen to the valid points raised by those who chant those words? Have you not watched the numerous stories of minorities killed by police? We know some of those killings were under very questionable circumstances. Do you understand why this is the cry of so many protesters? It doesn't mean other lives don't matter. It means, as a community, we're concerned about why this keeps happening.

As a Black woman, I fear my father or brothers could be one police stop away from a hashtag. We want our lives to matter, too.

Brenda Carden

Oakland


A Side of PTSD

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and others didn't deserve to be executed by police. They also don't deserve to be blamed for their deaths. But, that's what white Americans do: disavow systemic racism and blame the oppressed for their oppression.

I've raised sons. Black sons. Unlike white parents, Black parents must caution our children about police encounters, because we know it's only a matter of time before a cop in Everytown, America, stops and frisks or pulls them over because they "fit the description" for (insert crime here). Innocence be damned.

I thought if my sons were good people, if they looked and sounded like good people, they would be less likely to be physically or mentally harmed by the police and racist white Americans. They have average names. They dress and speak appropriately (respectfully). Their education and reading were stressed. Diverse friendships were encouraged.

Basically, I employed respectability politics in raising my children. But when the rubber meets the road, none of that matters to the police and racist white Americans. My sons are fucking awesome, but that won't keep them from being shot and killed by the police who are empowered to kill Black and brown American citizens with impunity.

Yes, white people are killed by police. But white people aren't targeted by police, they're given the benefit of the doubt. Black people aren't afforded that luxury. We are always seen as threats, regardless of our profession, how we speak, what we wear and drive, where we live. I have never stolen anything, I'm followed around stores. White people grocery shop while eating stolen fruit.

Decades of this disparate treatment wears on the psyche. Living the American dream shouldn't come with a side of PTSD — or death.

Tonya Alston

Fairfield


Hashtags

It has saddened me that something so powerful such as a name has become nothing more than an ongoing hashtag. These hashtags are growing at alarming rates. Leaving bodies breathless, families broken, and reasoning barely there. The disgusting reality of police brutality.

Unfortunately, I do not hold all the answers. But, collectively, we can develop the next steps. If we can begin to economically re-develop our communities, we're off to a great start. We must love, support, and unite. Although our problems are much much deeper than police brutality, no more lives shall be taken by the corrupt law enforcement.

Ajhana Dee

Oakland


Silence is Lethal

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

This was posted by white friend of mine two days before the death of Alton Sterling. It stood out because he doesn't post often. However, his very next social-media post featured a cute animal playing, a far cry from an acknowledgement of what was happening on the ground and in the news.

For those of you who have Black friends and family, they are deeply hurting at this time. They want peace just as much as you do, but you're putting them in a very difficult place right now. Many of you are not helping, but an even larger portion of you are not even listening.

Racism is learned, but so is silence. The cacophony is overwhelming, but your silence is lethal.

Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

Oakland


Please Join Me

I couldn't sleep after watching the videos. The murder and lack of concern for fellow human beings. Death at the hands of those sworn to protect. I know it's not new. I've hardly spoken up before. I'm white. What would I say? How could I say something and not appear ignorant or stupid or trite?

But this time, it's different. I'm not sure exactly how. But it is. I'm willing to take a risk. Willing to stand up and be uncomfortable. I'm willing to say that I support Black Lives Matter.

I made one short post on Facebook "#blacklivesmatter."

I am far from the social-justice warrior I wish myself to be. It feels like I can do so little as one person, but I will stand in my discomfort and I will say without exception that Black Lives Matter. I will say it, live it and teach it to my own sons until it is true. Without exception. Perhaps you can, too. Please join me.

Vicki Macchiavello

Oakland


The Time Is Now!

With the election of our first Black president, we can now truly see the real colors of some white Americans and how they truly feel about Blacks, expressed through the media and by the murders of Black men and Black women around the world. With that being said, we no longer can stand on the sidelines with peaceful protest or unsuccessful debates with Black scholars within our communities.

It's time to start our pilot revolution in order to secure our children's future. Gone are the days of marching and praying to a God to solve our problems. They didn't work back then, and they don't now. We must now all come together anyway we can, either by educating ourselves or working in our communities along with supporting each other. The time is now! Either we come together, or die together, "along" with our unborn generation.

Derrick Newton

Oakland


'Believe Me. I Care.'

I am a white woman, a grandmother, a teacher, who today wants to reach out to every Black person in this nation and say, "Believe me. I care."

I want to stop every Black person I see in Oakland when I go to visit my family who live there and say "I am sorry you have to live with this injustice and this vulnerability. I want you to understand that my sons and their wives and I care about you. And we are teaching their children to care. My sons' children will grow up learning that black lives matter!'"

Laura Bernell

Walnut Creek


Life Outside This Earth

"Do you believe there is life aside from this Earth?"

My roommate T.T. poses this question as we finish eating dinner. We are stationed on her bed, sipping wine and enjoying the last few hours of our day off. The television is reproducing sounds, acquired from a show, that serves to numb our thoughts. We have a lot on our mind these days. She a beautiful Black woman, me a gay Hispanic male. Two humans, who couldn't be more different, sharing a bottle wine, coming to terms with the destruction that has infested our respective communities.

Hours earlier, she cried as she reflected on the news conference given by the widow of Alton Sterling, in which their fifteen-year-old son wept uncontrollably in front of the press.

"That could be one of my brothers, my father" she says in between tears.

"That could be you."

Undoubtedly, she is correct. Over the course of this year, the violence toward Black men by the police force has orchestrated civil unrest amongst the Black community. Voices, protests have all been passed amongst the general public as episodic pantomimes that in turn result in more confusion, in more heartbreak.

I clear my throat and answer her question.

"I do."

She looks at me with eyes that are wise beyond her years. She is a modern woman, paving her way in a world that offers her neglect, racism, and opportunities that come with a price of your sanity. I, a gay male, resonate with this oppression, because we've been marginalized in a contemporary society that preaches tolerance but crushes our hopes with unimaginable violence.

"I think there is life outside this Earth," she tells me, as she scrolls through her Facebook.

"I think those people who inhabit other planets behave better than we do. The humans here are at the bottom (she pauses) ... of the food chain".

She clicks on a live video that within minutes has gone viral. I move in closer to watch the aftermath of the murder of Philando Castile. His girlfriend praying over his body, the child who was exposed to such atrocious trauma.

At this point neither one of us has anything to say. I ask myself: Will any of this ever end?

Josiah DeCarlo

Berkeley


A Black Culture in Mourning

Dear America: Perhaps you may have forgotten my permission to exist within the grips of your unfavorable realm of democracy that has dissolved into ashes of Black bodies beaming from caskets, engraved in the soil in which we once were told to stand proudly on. Today, I am trying to align my right mind with reason, and find any piece of remembrance in which I was supposed to believe in your "Country Tis of Thee," while laying little Black boys, and Black fathers, to rest at the hands of the fear in which cripples your disposition to allow my blackness the freedom to be.

Once again, I am reminded of your stench: your fallacy to encumber my burdens, my sorrows, my daily infraction of simply being Black, when shadows and mere drops of melanin make you jump outside of your skin. Yesterday, I wept for Tamir Rice, and toy guns that bothered you, when the mere sight of Black adolescence made you self-destruct, and being birthed from my mother's womb was the tipping point for Black lives to matter. We watched as you pumped bullets into bodies that cried out like whispers gone mad, gasping for last breaths, heart beats erupting, hearing communities weep, while hovering over mothers that cry for futures that will forever remain skewed. No longer can we sit idle and be the docile creatures you expect us to be. Because we are more.

Since boat rides across Atlantic seas; whether our worth be rooted in "I Have A Dream Speeches" or Black hoodies. More, than minstrel shows and puppets for propaganda. Basketballs and Baby Daddy syndromes you think define us. Know that we are more. And, tomorrow, I would like to awake knowing that, should I bring life into this world, it will grow up past eighteen birthdays and bear future grandsons and daughters that will never have to wonder how beautiful their Black is. Or be afraid to walk the streets in their own skin because you quiver at its glimmer of magic.

My skin should never cause you to forget that before I am Black, I am human. And so I ask of you today to see me as more. Because we have always been. And will forever be. Sincerely, A Black Culture in Mourning

Tamesha Danyelle Price

Oakland


Turning the Mirror

Scrolling through my Facebook on July 7, 2016, I read a multitude of posts responding to the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. My friends and acquaintances, most of them white, most of them college educated and middle-class, all expressed outrage, anger, frustration, and sadness. But one in particular caught my attention because it began with the sentence, "I'm in disbelief."

The trouble is, the premise of the sentence, as well as most of the white responses I have read to the killings of Black and brown people by police, is that these killings suspend one's belief in a system that many of us think can work. The reality is that the murders of Sterling and Castile, as well as others whose names we've learned to recall, as well as thousands of names who will forever remain unknown to us, is merely the expression of a system that is predicated on the violent erasure of Black lives. We don't want to believe the system, and the police who uphold that system, is functioning as it was designed to function.

We as white people like to believe that we can both express our outrage toward police killings of Black bodies, while we continue to partake in all the privileges that have been afforded to us by the very system that perpetrated their murder. We call for the heads of public officials and politicians, all the while sidestepping our own culpability.

We may talk with one another about the injustice, or write about it on our Facebook, or share it on Twitter, but we quickly return to discussing the merits of a particular brew pub that occupies a building that once was a part of Black Broadway, or retire to our homes that are in formally Black neighborhoods. The following morning, we return to our jobs, many of which are supported by a globalized system of power and trade that perpetrates the inequality and violence that plays out in the streets of Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, and in every corner of America.

We rarely examine our own lives and the small, everyday actions that make us accomplices to the system.

Movements like #BlackLivesMatter will only be truly successful when we as white people begin to take a hard look at all of the manifestations of our privilege and move to change our own lives.

Harper Brokaw-Falbo

Oakland


The Mythical Institution

American policing has become institutionalized and, like any institution, it has created mythical images, become mired in denial and fought the truth when its power is threatened. Many police agencies are like out-of-control drug addicts, supported by codependent politicians and a judicial system where money plays a key role. "Community Policing" is a tool of the institutions, whereas police living in the communities they serve, sending their children to schools in the community, belonging to churches and community organizations would be true community policing. Legal and political manipulations for special interests instead of the common interest have created much of this problem (and, yes, racists are a special interest). And it will be very difficult to break it down.

Instead of a police fraternity or a "family in blue," we need police that are people like us and not a special "protected" class. In the end, the destruction of the mythical institution of policing will make the streets safer for individual police officers and the public at large. In the final analysis, politicians have created the conditions for this crisis by failing to ensure that all of our citizens have decent livelihoods and full participation in the power of our country.

Jeffrey Gaddy

Oakland


We Must Remain Relentless

I say that this impacts our community, because these are our brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews who are dying, being locked up, and terrorized by people unwilling to interrupt and examine our personal bias as well as laws and policies that disproportionately harm our family of color.

When my black sister is curled up in a ball for days on end after seeing another video of an unarmed black man murdered by police.

When my black brother is numb and hides out in his house to avoid having to talk to anyone after another white man walks free after murdering a black person.

When my black niece makes videos about the pain of black girls not fitting in and it resonates with millions of cis and trans black women.

When my black nephew rehearses with his parents every day before he leaves the house what to do if he encounters a police officer knowing that it may very well be an exercise in futility…#PhilandoCastille.

When any of my black family and friends have to weather a breaking point again and again and again….and then be expected to show up in service of curious white people (their boss, the person buying coffee in front of them, their landlord) who want to talk about these horrific events from a voyeuristic curiosity and be re-traumatized again and again and again.

I will not be silent while this country does this to my family. Your life matters, black family.

White family, if you see, you are expected to raise your voice and be in action with us. If you don’t see, you are expected to open your eyes. The atrocities we see (when we choose to look) on our own soil by far outweigh the smoke and mirrors our government and media will have you believe about "outside terrorism" coming in. Scared of ISIS? Try being black in any city in America. ISIS is not the priority. The liberation of our family being terrorized right in front of our closed eyes is the priority. Look, listen, learn, engage, stand up…..you know full well you’d burn the courthouse down if this was your brother or sister. Well, it is. Light the match, family. 

Maureen Benson

Oakland


Change Your Values

I watched so much crying after the killings of the Dallas law-enforcement officers, and so many who wept spoke of love, the need for love. Love. If this is the value, then change the laws to reflect that! Show your love through well-built and maintained and truly affordable housing, through universal health care, through free public education, through closing income gaps and enormous wage disparity, through clean water and non-GMO foods and through respect for difference, all difference.

It seems the greatest feeling shown at the moment is anger. "Anger is useful to help us clarify our differences, but in the long run, strength that is bred by anger alone is a blind force which cannot create the future," wrote Audre Lorde.

If Black lives are not felt and deeply valued, then what is the future being created right now?

Ellen Sebastian Chang

Oakland


End America's Legacy of Slavery

My understanding of the relationship between the Black and white Americas begins with the glaring and growing economic inequality in the United States and the denial of what the United Nations deems basic human rights to tens of millions of people. I find it incomprehensible that, in the richest and most powerful nation in world history, with the possible exception of the Roman Empire, we tolerate the poverty, homelessness, hunger, and denial of decent housing, education, and health care so many Americans experience.

Each of these conditions is experienced far disproportionately by our African American neighbors. Blacks have the highest poverty rate at 26.2 percent and non-Hispanic whites the lowest at 10.1 percent. Whites earn 73 percent of bachelor's degrees; Blacks 10 percent. About 33 percent of white Americans hold a bachelor's degree or more; for Blacks the percentage is only 23 percent. African Americans have every reason to be alienated from a society that perpetuates the impacts of slavery 400 years after the first slave ship docked in the American colonies.

The epidemic of police violence requires vast changes in the ways police officers are recruited, trained, and supervised. But if Americans want the killings to stop we have to demand a new War on Poverty, this time combined with a War on Racial Injustice, to finally end America's legacy of slavery.

Dan Siegel

Oakland


Take Action

Who am I

Do I have value?

Will I ever get a job?

Is my college degree from CSUEB enough to stand out?

Is my natural hair too much for the 21st century work place? Every day, the people who look like me are killed and no one takes action. Is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram the new media for taking action?

Take action one person at a time. Clean your own house and your kids. Grandkids. And then encourage your network of people to do the same. Live for today. Volunteer, if you see an area in your community that needs improvement. You be the change. Stop waiting for someone else to do it.

In my community there is high crime rates, according to the data reports. Low school scores. The plan I will take will include: National Night Out to get to know my neighbors. Volunteer at the East Oakland Youth Development Center and host community events for the kids. Last year my family collected and gave away 129 used bikes to kids ages 6 to 17 and we collected and gave away used coats to kids in the community where we live.

What is your plan of action?

Patricia Mitchell

Oakland


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