VOX traveled to Athena’s Warehouse at Cross Keys High School this fall to lead two workshops with their teen girls and mentors about race. After several activities and opportunities for discussion, the mentors interviewed the teens for VOX’s “Portraits of Race” project as part of VOX Investigates’ Race In Atlanta. Teens shared their stories, experiences, and opinions through these interviews.
Yissell Yanez, 16, Cross Keys High School
When I moved here, I realized for the first time that I was Hispanic because in El Salvador, I was surrounded by people like me. I don’t want people to associate drugs or gangs with Hispanics. It makes me feel bad that the president-elect has already associated these things with Hispanics. One thing about my community that I am proud of is that people help each other within their communities.
Lesli Ramirez, 15, Cross Keys High School
Well, race has impacted my world in many ways. For starters, how they treat my kind. It’s hurtful seeing and hearing the racial things [people] have to say about us, but it’s not only my kind but other kinds of races that are not treated equal. What I want the world to know about race is that it does not define a person. Just ‘cause they are a certain race and some people of their race do bad things, doesn’t mean they would do the same. Get to know [people], and you will be amazed by the things they can do and the things you have in common.
Jillian DeLeva, 14, Cross Keys High School
My mom is African-American and my dad is Italian. I honestly don’t really know much about my racial background, so I wouldn’t say that I’m close to it. … Being mixed for me was sort of difficult, I guess, because I didn’t really understand it. … One of the main issues with being mixed for me was my hair, because my two sisters have good kinky hair that can be straightened and can be curly, and I just didn’t really understand my hair type. It was honestly confusing… Trying to understand my race, being mixed is confusing… But, I like the fact that I’m not normal, I guess. And my skin — most people have to go into the sun and wait a long time to get a tan, but I like the fact that my skin is naturally like this.
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VOX Investigates race this semester. Check out our ongoing coverage here.