A year ago yesterday - on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was shot, and murdered by policeman Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The horrific tragedy was met by powerful protests - and subsequently, it started a movement. My prayers are with Michael Brown’s family today - and everyday.
Prior to that day, I did not know much about the police brutality, the justice system, or the institutionalized racism that exist in this country. I had grown up in Princeton, New Jersey as a progressive Muslim-American teen advocating for justice, but I was never adequately educated about or aware of the systemic oppression that Black Americans face. In retrospect, Ferguson taught me more than I can ever articulate, and has shaped me into the activist I define myself as now.
I started redefy the summer before my 9th grade year, but it wasn’t until the movement began that I started to truly identity as an activist. The protests that erupted in the wake of Darren Wilson’s lack of indictment sparked something within me. I began to use twitter as a news source, to regard activists as role models, and to educate myself beyond what the mainstream media was feeding me. I didn’t really understand the scope of how whitewashed, unfair, and biased our media is until last summer. I had no idea about the ways in which African-Americans suffer in this country. The death of Michael Brown hurt my heart, and the lack of indictment broke it.
Late August, I became the first teen member of the board of Not in Our Town - a local racial justice nonprofit doing amazing work. Since then, I have built upon my work, and made it redefy’s mission in 2015 to reduce racial prejudice and hate. I will spend the rest of my life working towards racial justice. The horrifying reality is one that no one should ignore. No mother, no child, and no person should have to fear for their lives because of the pigment of their skin. Black Lives Matter, and I refuse to stop saying it - in fact, I intend to scream it.