NAACP Youth Council Member Speaks Out

My name is Kaylyn Hayden.

I’m an Honors Student at Copley High School and I’m an active member of the NAACP Youth Council.

I wanted to take the time today to speak about my frustrations towards current events. More specifically the ongoing deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers.  I’m angry that African Americans still have to fight for the right to live. We’ve been fighting for almost 400 years. But still, we are not equal in the eyes of society. We want the same liberties. Not to be above anyone, just equal.

No matter how far African Americans excel, we are still seen as criminals. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and journalists. We are athletes, actors, singers and comedians. We are mayors, senators and even Presidents. But still, society sees us as guilty. I’m tired of Black Americans being portrayed as violent thugs. When police are called, we are automatically assumed to have done something wrong. Even when injustices are recorded, somehow it is still our fault.

Recent events may not have taken place in our city. Nor do we want them to. But we are all a part of a hurting community. Watching innocent black people being wrongfully detained, arrested, brutally beaten, and killed by officers who are trained to “protect and serve” is disheartening. In fact, it is suffocating. So much so that I can’t breathe. You can’t breathe. America can’t breathe. We are all choking, on years of oppressive legislation that is being disguised as social order.

People my age are being killed for playing in parks and buying a bag of skittles. People who look like me are losing their lives for jogging or just simply being in their own homes. I’m exhausted that the color of my skin is seen as a threat. Policies must change.

In order for this type of change to occur, we must fight together. African Amercians cannot accomplish this alone. We need our allies!! We need our non-black family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to join us.

Kneel with us to bring awareness to police brutality. Stand with us to enforce basic human rights. Walk with us to protest against discrimination. And most importantly, Run with us to the polls this November and Vote. By voting we can end the cycle of systemic racism together.

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