Youth take steps toward change

By Nicholas Sewgobind Benjamin N Cardozo High School and Abigail Changoor Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

When George Floyd died after being kept in a chokehold on May 25th over a counterfeit bill, it sparked movements calling for his justice as well as many others and the need to change the way POC are treated by police officers.  

Alanna Chen, a rising senior at Benjamin R. Cardozo High School in Queens is one of many who have been moved to act. 

The death of George Floyd has sparked movements across the country. Photo by Abigail Changoor

“It felt like my duty to attend a protest… when my kids … ask what I did during this historic moment, I’d feel ashamed if I did nothing,” she said. “I have contributed to the movement through educating and spreading awareness about the issues as well as participating, and I felt empowered for doing so. As a 17-year-old doing my part, those older and younger can join together for change.”

Similar to Chen, the younger minds of Gen Z plan to make their voices heard, wanting change with protests being sparked nationwide as a decentralized effort to bring upon non-violent change in communities; and the main leaders of these protests consist of the youth. 

Alanna Chen, a rising senior at Benjamin R. Cardozo High School says it is her “duty” to attend protests. Photo by Abigail Changoor

According to the Pew Research Center of Social & Demographic Changes, younger adults are three times as likely to say they’ve contributed to an organization that focuses on racial equality.

Posters are held and families march together in order to obtain justice for relatives, friends, and more.

“Black people and other people of color have faced injustice always. What made this situation so serious was that George Floyd had been mistreated and lost his life,” stated 17-year-old Aliesha Hetnarine, who attends Robert H. Goddard High School in South Ozone Park. “I feel that these protests are done to portray that they’d never stop fighting until we’re all treated the same; given the same punishment for the same crime and it’s not based on our appearance/skin color.

Aliesha Hetnarine, who attends Robert H. Goddard High School in South Ozone Park, says the protests will never stop until all people are treated the same. Photo by Abigail Changoor

Numerous teens strive to be activists and speak up against unfair treatment as they don’t want their adult years to be filled with violence, believing that equality amongst all individuals is significant. 

“I think the Black Lives Matter protests are powerful. My first protest was actually the one I attended in Valley Stream. It was a very moving experience… I wish protests in our area were still being televised,” Maya Voytelmgum, a rising senior at Stony Brook University said. “I would hope real justice is served but the way things have been, I sadly don’t respect that; based on the sheer factor the Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly, & Myles Cosgrove [Breonna Taylor’s murderers] are still not convicts says a lot.”

These young teen reformers stay active and plan to keep others informed. “I post almost everyday,” concurred Alanna Chen. “We need our voices to be heard because if they aren’t, then our world will just bypass this problem and we will continue to face corruption. We need justice for those who have lost their lives in order to achieve peace.

Julie Ham contributed to this article. 

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