perience when getting stopped by the police. That is what my family members worry about when we notice cops or others who do not seem to see beyond our color: we get scared. These deep feelings of emotion have allowed me to grow as an individual for the better. I am becoming active, I am wanting to make a change, advocate whenever I can, allow my opinion to be heard. I was a little girl unaware of the trials and tribulations I may face due to the color of my skin, but now I realize the power I possess to make a difference. Having peers who understand the constant troubles, sympathize, and are actively working to be anti-racist, is the best thing to have. They understand you and want to do what they can to help because they acknowledge all that is happening in the world today. Uniting in the Cause: Walking into this all-new class at our school, sitting next to each other felt safe. Being good friends since elementary school, familiarity eased our nervousness about Mission: "To encourage We sent out a simple e-mail to African American Leadership Council at United Way, Women of Toledo, and YWCA of Northwest Ohio requesting a virtual meeting to chat with some of the leaders of their racial equity divisions. Hearing their advice and answering their questions made us more confi dent in our mission and assertive when describing our ways for reform. anti-racism in our community and seek reform in the education system." the unknown. Our main project for the semester was to complete a community service project and have a corresponding artifact. With such broad guidelines, honing into a specifi c area of need was one of the fi rst decisions we needed to make. Going so bold and choosing racial injustice was something that excited us. The opportunity to fi nally create a more welcoming community for everyone made the wheels in our minds start to turn. But there is the pressure of you better do this right. This is more than a little lemonade stand, this is correcting and dismantling centuries of prejudice and injustice. Our work was defi nitely cut out for us. What does a person do to lay the groundwork for those to come? That is a loaded question that we have tried to dissect and answer throughout the semester. We fi rst met with some amazing Toledo-area organizations that have already started projects similar to ours. These organizations are idols to us, outrageously intelligent and amazing advocates for minority voices. In such a heterogeneous area, combatting racism takes education and effort. Making this easy and fun for our neighbors will make learning about racism and Black culture second nature. Shows, movies, music, podcasts, and books are all forms of media we felt our community would enjoy most. With an anti-racist message, diverse cast, or simply highlighting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) stories, the effort is lowered and education is not seen as a chore. The work that we put in to achieve social justice will never have an end date. We’re hoping to create a legacy that lasts long beyond our years in high school. To be an advocate is to be an upstander, to assert wrongdoings from a place of love and passion for growth. To be an advocate is to love your neighbors for who they are and how they are unique. So when it comes down to it, who are today’s changemakers? Today’s changemakers are our youth. If parents, friends, and the community instill values like inclusion and respect into the sponge-like minds of our children, they will grow up to be leaders of a kinder nation. In addition, having a school system that acknowledges and wants to be a part of the solution is one of the many steps needed in this long and rigorous process. With our youth being more diverse and open-minded, it has allowed us to better understand the world around us. It has led us to be changemakers and want to make this world better than it has been in the past. The generation ahead of us is going to be even more active in this area because our youth keeps getting more and more educated and knowing how to get their point across. Page 5

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