OPINION: Fighting for equality

Submitted by Siena Maniatis

On June 2, as Blackout Tuesday became a worldwide phenomenon, protestors all over the country gathered to object inequality and police brutality.

I attended the peaceful protest in Mount Shasta. I have lived in Siskiyou County for eight years now. I moved from the Bay Area, which is as diverse as a mixed bag of sweet candy. When I first moved here I was stunned by the lack of diversity in this area, so last Tuesday I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people, black and white, who showed up to the gathering.

People held signs and demanded justice through compelling chants such as “no justice, no peace.”

As we walked in the middle of the street, stopping traffic, we became a powerful unit. A unit of change and integrity. For eight minutes and 48 seconds, the crowd kneeled in front of the police department in complete silence as an act of respect to George Floyd.

The traffic lights continued to transition from green to yellow to red, but the traffic was static and the world was silent for just a moment as we paid homage to the black lives lost as we contemplated how we can trigger positive change for the future of the black community.

In that moment, the color of skin was invisible, everyone was wishing for the same thing: equality.

George Floyds’ death has triggered the Black Lives Matter Movement to spark up in ways we haven’t seen in years.

I have never faced the profound injustice of discrimination simply for the color of my skin. I’ve never had to worry much about minor misdemeanors because I know that’s all that will come of it – a misdemeanor results in fair consequences. I know I won’t end up dead over a speeding ticket. I’ve always had the reassurance that if I dial 911, I will be helped. People of color do not have those same privileges. People of color die in vain at the hands of racism every single day.

I’ve never been able to understand why some people determine that those individuals with more melanin in their skin deserve less honor and trust. That’s all it is. Melanin. Culture. Ethnicity.

I am white but I believe in equality. Skin color should not determine whether you live or die, your worth and rights. I am white and I can admit my white privilege. However, I do not see in color. I will use my privilege to fight for the equality the African American culture so long overdue deserves.

Siena is a Mount Shasta High School junior and an aspiring writer. She is interning for the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers over the summer as part of the Upward Bound Program.