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Civil and Human Rights Fellows Tackle Generational Differences

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VOX partnered with The National Center for Civil and Human Rights this winter to facilitate a writing workshop for its teen fellows. Here’s what they had to say:

Jamie Fisher, 16, Landmark Christian School

But Why Should I?

Because if you don’t, then who will? Because this is a war and the casualties are high. This is a battle and everyday people die against against an enemy who is hard to beat but we cannot accept defeat. It’s goddamn cold out there so go put on a coat and if you are warm then you mustn’t gloat. We’re in a war and our guns are pointed at ourselves.. We bomb our own bases, take down our own planes. We shoot our own soldiers because it’s kill or be killed. An eye for an eye here does not apply. Take both so she cannot see you run away. We are orphans of a society that has picked its favorite child to nurture. We must be our own mothers now. We are at war but not all hope is lost. The answer to our problems lie within us. Who better to help us than ourselves? When you see one of your own struggling to carry on, do not shrug off your conscience. Now is the time to act. Carry and you will be carried. Care and we will be cared for. Take heart, my sisters, we are not done yet. Tell her she’s beautiful because if you don’t, who will? Tell her she is important because if you don’t, who will? Tell her you love her because if you won’t, who will?

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“Passivity is the most pernicious of pathogens, apathy the most adverse of ailments and indifference the most internecine of illnesses. To see but not help, to hear but not speak, to know but not act is the greatest injustice one can commit against humanity.”

Jared Miller, 15, Carver Early College

The more teens I meet, the more cerebral my mind gets about my generation. It seems as if teenagers are afraid to admit that they are growing up and that there is no one to help you out there once you graduate from high school. Knowing this distracts teens from school work and from life. By being distracted, their attitude changes, mood swings occur which leads them to be reckless and deranged. The statement “you are a product of your environment” does not always have to be true. You can control your actions and level of knowledge.

By growing up, we can end the negative thoughts toward other races and instead help each other physically and mentally. We can unite as one and live in peace.I know and experienced how treating people differently can cause nothing but corruption and devastation. Once living in my previous residence (which was one story with two bedrooms and one bath with my mother, sister, grandmother, two brothers and father) seemed impossible to live in but we made it work. There was an elderly caucasian male, the only caucasian in the neighborhood at the time who never talked to anyone and no one talked to him. One day, three African American boys came to his doorstep asking for spare change and he replied, “Get off my porch, negro.” Because of his racist remark, a week later he was robbed by the same African American boys. You should never treat someone differently because they’re different than you. I hope and pray our generation will now change this problem in our culture.

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Brijida Devalle, 18, West End Academy

Teens talk about a lot of stuff. They can talk all about technology, drugs and problems they are experiencing. A problem I would like to address is drugs. It is not necessary to use them to be happy or to forget about your problems. Drugs may let you forget for a while but your problems are still there. You can’t run away from them. Get help. Solve your problems. Find someone to support and help you to get on a good path. I’ve been offered smoke and I proudly say no. I don’t need it. I can handles my problems and their consequences. A lot of parents would be proud to know their sons and daughters are doing well and seeing that other teenagers get help.

Hassan Coleman, Creekside High School, 14

As I walk the halls of my high school, I begin to realize that I’m different from everyone. The way I walk, talk, feel and think is different from the average 9th grader. I don’t play sports. I’m not in a gang. I’m in band. Band is an awesome outlet for me. I get to see and meet people from other bands and work my way up to becoming section leader. I have been doing band for a long time. So if any kids need an outlet, band is an option.

Melody You, 17, Johns Creek High School

I am from Chinese New Year, Christmas, with radiant lanterns and warm fireplaces.

From bookstores, subway stations and cozy coffee shops

I am from untied shoelaces, tight ponytails and knee scratches from climbing trees.

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I am from fresh laundry, petrichor, eucalyptus leaves and gardenias.

From click-clacking on cobblestones, bohemian rhapsody and ocean waves.

I am from the city that rose from the ashes of prejudice and discrimination.

From the state of the peach and “wisdom, justice, moderation.”

I am from respect, knowledge, open-mindedness and compassion.

And always “treat others the way you want to be treated.”

I am from keys, strings, saddle and bridge.

From Debussy, Vivaldi, Yorke and Lennon.

I am from self expression through the gel of my pen.

From once crumpling papers of my unfinished thoughts and dreams.

I am from slouching and keeping my lead low.

From fear of appearing gawky, awkward and strange in the height of others.

I am from constant self-improvement, motivation and new found confidence.

I am from exploring new places and writing new stories.

I am from walking long strides and sitting on roofs to see the world at a higher peak.

From screaming at the top of my lungs to gasp for the invigorating taste of air.

I am Melody.

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