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VOX Teens Offer Diverse Perspectives On Race

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As America continues to grapple with the tragic, hate-fueled events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, the VOX teens’ content on race relations is as relevant as ever.

Race has been a topic that no teen at VOX has ever shied away from. Whether it be through news reporting, video essays or poetry, VOX’s teen staff and contributors have talked about race from many different angles.

Our Winter 2016 VOX Investigates issue tackled the issue of race in Atlanta with the bold “I Am Human” theme.

“Like most other discussions about race, we began with reservation and cautiousness,” wrote teen editor Akhil Vaidya. “These walls, however, were steadily broken down as we discussed our personal experiences, backgrounds and collective desire to make a change.”

Many of the teens expressed their personal experiences and opinions on race with the video “Let’s Talk About Race.” In it, teens shared everything from their fear of being killed by a police officer because of their race to their wanting to live in a future where people’s differences don’t have to separate them.

“With the world of politics, social movements, and even entertainment having created significant divides amongst people this year, it’s hard to deny the impact this year will have on us as a whole,” said longtime VOX Video Editor and contributor Mikael Trench. “Arguably the biggest driving factor in a majority of these events has been racial tension. Whether it be the unclear motivations of politicians or the several police shootings that have taken place, it seems that everywhere you turn, something is making the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness a little less happy.”

In her piece “Dear America, What’s Good?” recent high school graduate and new Spelman College freshman Kayla Smith didn’t try to come up with answers, instead she posed some very serious questions:

As an African-American female living in today’s society, I deserve to have these questions addressed:

  1. Why are there barriers in society that restrict the progress of blacks?

  2. Am I a mistake because I am black?

  3. Must I suffocate under your oppressive atmosphere to be deemed “human?”

  4. Am I not worthy of the opportunities and rights my white female counterpart receives?

  5. Every child is born with potential, but does the child’s race affect whether or not her potential is unlocked?

  6. Is my skin type not beautiful?

  7. Do you slaughter my people in the night because your majority thinks my race isn’t worthy of life?

  8. If I dissent from America’s standards, will society try to make a statistic out of me ?

  9. What does it mean to be black, America?

  10. Where is the representation of my culture’s history in school?


VOX contributor  Isaac Wallack wrote about how race can also impact a person’s earning potential with the piece, “The Racial Wage Gap: Crippling People of Color’s Wallets Since 1492.” He provided eye-opening stats throughout the article, highlighting how people of color have been discriminated against when it comes to getting paid.

“The racial wage gap doesn’t have a mind of its own,” he offered. “There are people helping the racial wage gap grow whether they know they are or not. By sitting by and doing nothing, we too are only helping the wage gap grow.”

Another powerful piece came from VOX contributor Maya Martin with her poem “Preferences” where she wrote:

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who is the ugliest of them all?


Mirror, mirror, if only you could understand

I don’t want a black man

Or a little black child, with knots of hair upon her head.


I know the trouble of black hair that even

Braids cannot contain.


I have fallen in love with the sting of white soap

as it straightens in a permanent wave.


Mirror must be truth.

Truth is what they say.

God, blue-eyed Jesus, why did you make me this



What to say

to a little black child

When she asks

why has God made me this way?


What to say

to a little black child

when she says,


Why am I the only one?

Rebecca Jeltuhin’s piece “We Are All A Little Racist” was perhaps one of the biggest challenges a VOXer ever posed to our readers. In it she wrote:

We are all a little racist.

It is not just a matter of black and white

Or colors that do not blend in with the night

It is the monster that hides away in our brains

Driving our ingrained judgement insane.

We are all a little racist.

These are just a few of the many pieces our VOXers have produced about this tough topic. Click here to see more.

The art featured in this post is by Rebecca Jeltuhin and originally appeared with “We Are All A Little Racist in November 2016.

This teen-created content was re-packaged by Maurice Garland, VOX’s Publishing Manager.

Save the date! Share your voice – Dec. 9. 
This semester we invite you to join VOX teens in a community dialogue about immigration. Create art. Slam poetry. Meet each other. Follow along this semester’s investigation

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