I just got back from a five-day vacation in Los Angeles. It was my first time to LA, and, as I'm sure you can imagine, it was incredible. I met Propaganda, got to visit the TOMS Flagship Store in Venice, and walked around lots of shops I can't afford. And that wasn't even the half of it. Check out my Instagram to see a few more of the experiences I had.
However, the day I was leaving for LA was the day after the election. I woke up early to find out that Donald Trump had been elected president, and I'll be honest – I was upset. Not 100% surprised, but still upset. Once I arrived at the airport, I went looking for a newspaper about the election and stumbled upon a bookstore.
As I was looking around the bookstore, I remembered a book I heard about on the For Colored Nerds podcast that really intrigued me. It was called All American Boys, a young adult novel co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. I had been looking for it all over and thankfully this bookstore had it.
If you haven't heard about All American Boys, the story centers around two high school classmates, Rashad Butler, a black male, and Quinn Collins, a white male, whose lives are changed forever when Rashad is brutally beaten by a white cop who happens to be Quinn's close family friend.
For me, one of the most intriguing things about this book is that Reynolds, who is black, and Kiely, who is white, didn't try to tackle racial perspectives they weren't familiar with. The book is split into two contemporary narratives, Rashad's experience and Quinn's experience. Reynolds writes Rashad's story and Kiely writes Quinn's story, and then they don't really converge much until the end.
I don't want to give away any spoilers because I believe you should definitely read this book for yourself, but I believe it presents a question we all ask when tragedies happen, especially tragedies along racial lines: What is my place in this?
As various things happen and the world continues to change from the world we once knew, whether we voice it or not, we're all trying to figure out what our place is in the midst of all the madness. We can believe different issues don't apply to us and choose to ignore them, but the truth is we all have a place in our brothers' and sisters' brokenness because we're just that: brothers and sisters. We are family.
Your role may not be the same as your brother's or sister's role, but please don't think for one second you don't have a role in whatever your fellow neighbors, either local or far-out, are going through. You may not directly be the problem, but we can all have a hand in the solution.
So, going back to the election, I know I'm not the only one hurting right now. My brothers and sisters who are also minorities in America are hurting. Women are hurting. Muslims are hurting. My LGBT friends and family are hurting. And I'm crying with you, but also I'm fighting with you.
I will continue speaking out against systemic oppression of minorities.
I will continue speaking up for racial justice and equality.
I will continue working for greater diversity in my workplace.
I will continue sharing the story of Car Window Poetry.
I will continue working to cover communities across America with beauty and hope.