December 17, 2020
  • Opinion

"Change is coming": My experience with the Black Lives Matter movement

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By Diane Bahati

Diane-Bahati-headshot.jpgOn May 25, a mother lost a son, a man lost a brother, and a little girl lost a dad. His name was George Floyd, and on June 3 his name echoed in the streets of Salt Lake City. Amidst a global pandemic arose a racial outbreak that shook millions of people all over the nation.

On that hot sunny day, I stood on a podium and spoke to the hundreds of mourning, courageous faces. The number of people I saw from the beginning, multiplied. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, and at that moment I knew that this wasn't just a fight for George Floyd. This was a fight for the thousands of lives lost from police brutality. Black men in America have lost their lives from fighting a war that was sparked 400 years ago, and Black mothers are mourning for the hashtags that have dissolved into social media trends. So when I stood up on that podium and looked at the mourning faces, I read my poem;

Black boy, we love you.
Black boy, you have a soul.
Black boy, we’ll protect you.
Black boy, YOU MATTER.
Black boy, YOU F***N MATTER.
And one day I will have a Black boy.
One to hold.
One to hug.
One to love.
One with no worries, because they momma gon be right here.
Black boy, I will whoop yo a**, if you stress them, white neighbors.
Black boy you better come home before them street lights come on.
Because when they come on they won’t be able to see your beautiful chocolate skin.
And when people don’t see you, they imagine what you can be.
They’ll turn you into a monster.
Because they don’t see you they’re scared of you.
Because they don’t see you they will threaten you.
Because they don’t see you they don’t care that you graduated.
Because they don’t see you they don’t care that you’re successful.
Because they don’t see you they don’t care that you hurt.
Because they don’t see you they don’t care that you have a soul.
Because they don’t see you THEY DON’T CARE.
Black boy LISTEN TO ME.
They will pin you down, hold you at gunpoint and say that they felt threatened by you.
DO YOU HEAR ME!!?
BLACK BOY!!
It’s been 400 plus years of oppression, and you look no different from the last millions of people they’ve killed.
BLACK BOY RUN!
Run until you start to fly.
Run until you see clouds, and stars, and the whole galaxy.
Run and tell God that we’ve been screaming his name.
BLACK BOY YOU BETTER RUN!
But you can’t...
And just like that, they shot you.
It’s not because you were holding some skittles and tea.
It’s not because you were sellin some weed.
It’s not because of a broken tail light.
It’s not because you wanted to fight.
It’s because you were a Black boy.
Black boy, we will go to your funeral.
Black boy, you will lay with our ancestors.
And just like them Black boy, you’ll become a statistic.
A hashtag.
A name people whisper.
Saying your name will become sour to my mouth.
And just like that Black boy, your life didn’t matter to them.
And they still won’t care, because someone’s son will one day decide to walk the same street after that same street light comes on and they will shoot him!
And we get another cycle of mixed feelings and broken hearts.
We get another cycle of broken families with f***d up scars.
They will get you from your house.
Your cars.
You name it they will get you there.
Black boy, we love you.
Black boy, you have a soul.
Black boy, we’ll protect you as much as we can.
Black boy, YOU MATTER.
Black boy, YOU F***N MATTER.
And one day I don’t know if I wanna have a Black boy.

Despite the cheers coming from thousands of people, everything went silent. It was almost like the world went quiet for a split moment, and the only thing I could hear was my heart beating. That’s when a stranger said to me, “Change is coming soon; I feel it.”

Diane Bahati is a senior at AMES High School and lives in the Westpointe neighborhood. This past summer, she led a march and read her poem out loud as part of the Juneteenth Block Party protest.