Dear America: I Want Change

Marissa Parent

Marissa Parent

America has changed greatly in such a short time. I’ve lived here my entire life, and America isn’t a perfect utopia like I once believed it to be. Just in the past 365 days, so much has changed for me and everyone else. COVID really threw the entire world for a loop. I first found out about it in US I class, as a sickness that had appeared in China. I didn’t give it nearly as much attention as I should have. I turned a blind eye because hey, that wasn’t affecting me. I didn’t live in China, or think much about it. But people in China were suffering from COVID, and many people were dying. And then it did end up affecting me. COVID spread all around the world, including America. My entire world shut down, and then the quarantine began. I thought I’d been bored before, but COVID supplied a whole new level of boredom. I felt so lonely because I couldn’t see my friends, and I couldn’t go anywhere. It was a terrible experience for all of us. And just because it didn’t start in America, I didn’t pay much mind to it when I should have. I know now that everyone in this world matters, and I should pay attention to what’s going on around the world and to see things from others’ perspective, how other countries are doing. COVID was and still is a terrifying experience. America and other countries are struggling with it. All I can do for now is follow the protocol we’ve been given. I’ll wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash my hands, stay inside unless I absolutely need to leave, and do everything I can to help keep other people safe.

Another big event that shook me was the Black Lives Matter protests. As a privileged white person, I also turned a blind eye to what was going on here in America with racism. Before 2020, I wasn’t invested in the news at all. I didn’t really care what went on as long as I was safe. And that was an ignorant approach to life. Seeing the peaceful protests really opened my eyes. Because what they stood for was correct. Black lives do matter, and many black people have been treated unjustly just for their skin tone. And I’ve seen a lot of discourse online about black lives matter and all lives matter. What I’ve gained from looking at both sides is this; black lives matter doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. It’s saying that black lives also matter. Black lives are a part of the “all”, and shouldn’t be oppressed for their race. All lives do matter, but not all lives are privileged. Moving forward, I will respect people who are oppressed. Whether they’re Black, Asian, Latinx, or even something completely different like LGBTQ+, I will support them.  Growing up being an outcast just for who you are doesn’t sit right with me. I’m part of the next generation, and as a piece of this generation, I want to be the change I wish to see. I want to see a more supportive and accepting world, one where people aren’t killed or harassed because of how they were born. I want minorities that feel oppressed today to feel safe tomorrow. I want people to feel safe in being themselves, and not have to hide that from themselves and others. No matter what anyone else says, I have chosen to support Black Lives Matter because I stand for equality. Martin Luther King died for the rights of black people, and today it is still a fight. I want to live in a world where everyone has equal rights, so I’ll play my part in treating everyone as an equal, so one day maybe I can live in that world. At this point I can also sign petitions and raise awareness about what’s going on in the world around me. I can try to help in spreading the word so that people can get the love they deserve.

Like I said before, America isn’t perfect. Just at the beginning of this year, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Joe Biden has become our President, and the Senate and House of Representatives are mostly made up of Democrats.  Trump supporters got into the Capitol building, breaking stuff and entering, taking pictures and rioting. President Elect Joe Biden said himself that had this riot been a Black Lives Matter protest, it would have gone down much differently. Of the 10,000+ people that stormed the Capitol, only around 13 were arrested. All of my friends are also aware that if it were black people protesting, there would be much more arrests and deaths. This ties into the BLM protests, and I still see it as unacceptable. People rioted just because they weren’t happy with the results of an election. As kids, we were told “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” But these fully grown, fully capable adults acted immaturely because they weren’t satisfied with the majority vote. They decided violence would be the best answer for this. Times aren’t looking too good right now, and these events will definitely be in the history books of our children and theirs, and so forth. But our time isn’t being remembered as a positive, fond memory. What’s happening now is going to be written in the history books as a difficult, unjust time. My friends and I are too young to vote, but we at least can start educating ourselves now so we can vote wisely when we get the opportunity.

So, dear America, how do you feel about the country right now? About the riots and the inequalities and even the things we can’t control? About not seeing what’s going on elsewhere? I am terrified for our future if I’m going to be honest. I’m scared that things are going to get worse, and the country is going to divide. Some people refuse to wear masks in public, regardless of how much danger they put others in. Others are taking part in riots for what they believe in. What is going to become of us? When will this all end? I don’t want to stand by and hold my breath helplessly anymore. I have a voice, so I’m going to use it. I have a right to my own opinions, just as everyone else does. But I want to make a difference. I want to see change. And if everyone sits back and expects somebody else to stand up, nothing is going to change. The hope for the future is in our hands, and it’s up to us whether or not we use that opportunity.