Black Lives Matter, a movement gaining traction via social media feeds – especially that of Twitter timelines, has sparked great debate in social and political circles. Those standing in opposition of the movement have yet to grasp an understanding behind its purpose. These same persons, struggling to wrap their mind around this cultural revolution, should possibly seek help from four young males who have somewhat simplified the issue. Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy are currently enrolled into their local elementary school, choosing to step outside the box and tackle adult-like issues. While attending Wildwood Elementary school located in Amherst, Massachusetts, the students were assigned a group project by instructor Chris Effmeir. Each group within the class was given instruction to tackle an issue in the world, and develop a plan that would best solve this issue. With a new-found opportunity to voice his opinion, Bryson, one-fourth of the four man group, decided to direct his energy towards Black Lives Matter and encourage his peers to do the same.
After expressing his passion towards the matter, Bryson convinced his group mates to stand alongside him in attacking this social epidemic. He introduced his personal understanding of the movement to his group mates and allowed his team to address the letter to President Barack Obama. What started out as an inquisitive kid paying close attention to the news at home, sparked an in-class assignment that would not only grab the attention of his teacher, but the local news station as well.
The letter was completed and submitted in early February, just in time for Black History Month. But before the letter was emailed to the President, it was edited by paraprofessional Mtalia William Banda. Once noticing the weight of the letter Banda published the letter to his personal blog site Soul Latte. Once published, the letter took fire, reaching over 1000 shares via Facebook which then sparked local media attention.
Now viral, the students are now anxiously awaiting a response from Mr. President.
The letter begins with the youthful pre-teens encouraging law enforcement to treat everyone equally. The letter continues with the following message,
“Black Lives Matter movement started because of the death of Trayvon Martin. The movement gained momentum with the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. There were reasons those people were killed but it wasn’t worth being killed over.
Police shouldn’t be killing unarmed African-Americans, but some people take this movement in the wrong way by thinking that they are just saying that only Black Lives Matter but no, we are saying that Black lives matter too, which means all lives matter. Whites are treated like they matter by the police. For instance, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. African-Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police. This shows that Blacks are treated unfairly. This movement advocates for our rights.”
“We want this problem to be fixed so people like us won’t have to be scared when we go hang out with friends, go to the store,” says Bryson during an interview with MassLive.
“We wanted (President Barack Obama) to know we absolutely know and care about this stuff,” says Phoenix. “It made me feel scared and worried knowing that this could happen to anyone, and anyone includes us.”
And for those still searching for clarification regarding the difference between “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”, Pheonix had this too say, “When you’re white, you’re probably being treated right. Yes, all lives matter. But black lives aren’t mattering as much right now.”
Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy desire a safe space for them to grow, learn, and thrive, a space threatened by police brutality.
Given the letter’s popularity the four young men have been asked to read their work aloud in several public arenas, even appearing in a panel discussion focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. Watch these four rising professionals as they read their letter aloud to an enthralled group, propelled to protect the lives of Black male youth.
Did you enjoy this story? Be sure to read the full letter here and leave your comments in the space provided.