‘Stand for Racial Justice’ High School Essay Contest Winner: Miles Watts
Cuyahoga Community College recently asked Northeast Ohio teens to weigh in on a question society often struggles to answer: What is racism, and what should we do about it? Nearly 200 students answered.
The following essay by Miles Watts of Lakewood was the second-place winner in the senior-junior group. He is a student at Lakewood High School.
Racism isn’t just one thing, it is a combination of philosophies. When broken down racism is inequality, an imbalance of opportunities. Racism is an unjust and unfair treatment of minority groups. Racism is years of policies that were put in place to keep society in a state of imbalance and this is the sole reason there are such inequities. There core philosophies of racism strengthen one another. They mix and meld to form a construct. It is through the combination of these ideas that true racism is born, a seemingly unbreakable cycle of discrimination that many people ignore. We cannot let this happen any longer, and we cannot stand by and watch as good people suffer. Something must be done.
How do we address racism? By breaking the cycle. We need to be conscious of racism, we need to be aware that racism happens all around us. Many people (who are not its victims) ignore racism and choose to be ignorant because racism does not affect them personally. We need to make antiracism the new normal; switching from just disagreeing with racism to being actively antiracist in our everyday lives. We need to teach and portray tolerance and inclusivity, acknowledging and accepting one another’s backgrounds and differences. We greatly affect those around us, especially those younger than us. Being a role model by having an attitude of tolerance and acceptance can instill positive ideas into young minds. Including everyone can help diverse groups of people become accepting of one another’s differences, this can eliminate racist ideas that come naturally and can start a trend of acceptance in society. We need to use our privilege to spread awareness – staying silent only adds to the problem and can be taken as agreement. We can also use our influence (such as being a teacher, parent, politician) to spread awareness and promote positive behavior to those who support us.
What exactly should we do about racism? Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” To seek real change, we must destroy racism at its core. By offering equal opportunities for everyone we can begin to stop inequality. By providing affordable housing, free health care, access to food and equal education we can create more opportunities for marginalized people. By making discrimination in the workplace, and at school, and in politics, and in law enforcement completely unacceptable we can put an end to injustice.
By removing policies that antagonize, destabilize and create disparities in oppressed communities we can begin to conquer inequity. And by getting rid of racist beliefs we can move away from discriminatory societal trends until they are gone forever. Through continuous struggle, we can dictate racism instead of letting it dictate us. By taking steps towards undermining racism’s core philosophies, we can begin to eliminate racism forever.
The Stand for Racial Justice High School Essay Contest was sponsored by Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center in partnership with cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer and Sun News.
January 15, 2021
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org