Race Note by Desarae Gilbert

To be a citizen in America means sacrifice, radical hope, tolerance, and patience. To have the same rights as someone else is to be a citizen, but obviously things are different for certain groups. Some have to try harder, reach farther, make more connections, have more money, and more. Even then, some are still looked at the same way, regardless of economic or financial status.

Ashawnty Davis, a 10-year-old black girl, hanged herself after a video of a bully and her fighting went viral. This child at a young age believed her only option was death because in the black community, mental health is a taboo topic that is not often discussed. Simone Sneed, is a non-profit professional who speaks about her experience with mental illness and the emotional tension she developed from growing up as an outsider: “Health care providers can be insensitive to the cultural experiences of African Americans. There are some health care providers who assume that…strife in black people or having a difficult time are what’s to be expected…in some cases they may normalize what may be a traumatic reaction.

We can respond to this moment in time by taking a bigger stance on the real problems that so many  American citizens face today given that they are somewhat expected to go through what they do. That expectation is a mental and physical burden. No matter your age, gender, or condition, you are simply expected to experience conflict.

I remember being younger and not knowing who to talk to about my feelings.

Of sadness, loneliness, this overall grayness that consumed me some days

What outlet could I invest in? Why did I feel isolated in my own home? With my loving parents?

Genuine questions I couldn’t find answers to

I wonder if Ashawnty wondered too..

Feeling like you belong in this sense can be hard given that some

especially kids

are so emotionally and socially isolated that they feel as though they can not trust anyone and must deal with their problems alone. These feelings of alienation that can come with being mentally ill can lead to intense feelings of loneliness. And fear.

I live and breathe in black everyday. I see the difference between when a black man is on the news for robbing a bank and they call him a thug, a criminal, a danger to society. I see when a white man shoots up a church and he is a lone wolf, mentally ill, or just a child. The contrast between the same crimes punishments take the heaviest toll on my mind. Philadelphia violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, so I hear it. I see it. I feel how it affects us. To be a young person in Philadelphia, I would like to see change in the state of my people and how they are looked at. How they are seen. Because a lot of the time we are invisible, but put on blast when in the wrong.IMG-3377

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