Right now, as a young person, it can feel frustrating to watch what's taking place in our country, and feel helpless in the fight. You can attend protests, but if you live in an area where there's no organizing, that can feel difficult. You can donate to freedom funds or even George Floyd's family, but without an income, you may not have the money to spare. Despite that, your drive and desire to help in the fight for equality and respect in this country is not diminished just because you are young. In fact, it may even be stronger as you wish to fight for your future, one where you don't have to be scared of getting killed for going on a run, getting a traffic ticket, or simply being Black.
Well, one 15-year-old has proven that age is just a number in the fight for justice. Kellen, who comes from a small town on the North Oregon coast set up a petition on Wednesday, May 26, the day after George's untimely death. She asked the public to help get the attention of the Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, as well as the district attorney, Mike Freeman. Her goal was to get the officers involved in George's death fired and charged for their crimes.
"To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot to come from making the petition," Kellen told Seventeen. "But I definitely had hope from the beginning."
In just two days, the petition blew up, receiving a new signature every two seconds and reaching 5,075,000 signatures, making it the biggest U.S. petition in the history of Change.org
Now, Kellen's petition has over 10.5 million signatures, with a new goal of 12 million. The three officers involved in George's murder have been fired, but so far, only Derek Chauvin, the man who choked George, has been charged and Kellen isn't stopping until justice is served.
Kellen's petition and the change it has helped to enact is proof that everyone has the ability to make a difference. No one is helpless in the fight for change unless they choose to be.
In addition to donating and/or protesting, there are so many things teens can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Kellen herself is asking for help to reach her goal. She is looking for videos from people who signed the petition on why it's important to them. She is also urging supporters to call Mike Freeman and demand the arrest of the other two officers. You can call 612-348-5550 or email email@example.com to make your voice heard.
Kellen does recognize that it isn't always easy for people her age to get involved, but she urges the use social media as an effective tool during this time. "I would suggest teens who would like to spread awareness in this time to post about it everywhere and share posts about the situation or anything involving police brutality and racism," she said. She also emphasized the importance of signing petitions and educating others and yourself on what's going on.
In addition to Kellen's petition, you can text "FLOYD" to 55156 and sign the #JusticeForFloyd petition, which is also calling for the arrest of the other two officers, as well as the release of protestors who have been arrested.
Making a difference can even be as simple as changing your habits. If you're shopping for a new bathing suit to hit the beach in this summer, or a pair of earrings to wear once school starts up again, consider supporting Black-owned businesses when making these purchases. Take note of which major companies are speaking out and doing their part in the movement and support them with your patronage. Similarly, think twice before buying something from a company that has been silent when the privilege to do so is no longer an option.
You can also take a note from Kellen and organize yourself. If you there are no protests occurring around you, organize one on your own. No matter how small your town may be, or how many people show up, every step and every person makes a difference. Use whatever community, whatever network you have to make change.
And finally, you can spend this time educating yourself—learning that this is a centuries old fight in our country. Engage with the Black community and learn about their incredible history and everything they have, and are still, fighting for. You can start with this reading list, but don't let it stop there.
And remember, no one is too young to make a difference, only too complacent to care. We are all important in this fight and we can all make a change.
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