Site Overlay

Black Lives Matter

54 min read

Lineup – click name to jump to interview

Lauren Gissentanna – Singer/Audio Interview
Erbriyon Barrett – Artist/Text Interview
Sean A. Robinson – Photographer/Audio Interview
Zakiyyah Woods – Photographer/Text Interview
J. Pinder – Photographer/Text Interview
Demont Pinder – Artist/Text Interview
Tony Davis Photographer/Text Interview
Travon Free – Photographer, Writer, Comedian/ Text Interview
Nikki Lynette – Artist, Mental Health Activist/ Text Interview
Aclesia Miller – Mental Health Activist/ Audio Interview
Shevrin Jones – Politician / Text Interview

Scroll down to see my interview with the artists included in this video!

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen countless stories from all over the country as well as some other parts of the world. I have heard stories about police brutality, fear, protests, and more. All of you know that the death of George Floyd has highlighted the need for change across the country. It has been said many times over, that in order for real change to occur, everyone needs to participate.

There are many ways to participate. From signing petitions, raising awareness, social media posting, having conversations with family, peaceful protesting, etc. Don’t ever feel like what you are doing isn’t enough because every voice and conversation counts. All you have to do is to speak out. and hold others accountable when you see racism in any form. Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, strangers.

When everyone starts to act for the sole desire to create a change, then and only then change will happen.

I am trying my best to be part of this conversation and actively showing my support in the fight for a positive change.

I wanted to use my platform to share incredible stories by POC. Over the past month, I have reached out to extraordinary politicians, artists, and activists. These are incredible and inspiring stories that will provide a perspective into the BLM movement.

The best way to support the Black Lives Matter movement is to start by supporting incredible Black creators and individuals who are doing extraordinary work. All Instagram accounts are listed


Lauren Gissentanna – Singer

Lauren Gissentanna Instagram: @theafroqueeen

Lauren Gissentanna is an avid singer and I had the opportunity to interview her. Listen to our talk about racism in America, and what we all can be doing to actively fight racism and support the Black community.

Listen to some of her amazing music below! Her incredible song “All I Really Want” is in the video at the top of this post!


Erbriyon Barrett – Artist

Erbriyon Barret is an artist who paints murals and illustrations. Read our conversation about his work, and what we can all be doing to support BLM

Look at his amazing artwork on his Insta and below!

Tell me about yourself.

I’m a creative who does art, mostly painting murals and illustrations. I’m also skilled in animation, dance, and photography 

What inspired you to become an artist?

I’ve been an artist since 5 and the inspiration has always been there for me, but as of now I am just realizing how far you can go with it such as having shoe deals or stuff on billboards. I just want my future kids to have someone to look up to who’s actually their parent.

Are there any Black creators you look up to and support?

Blue the Great, Justin Richburg, Jacob Rochester, Tyler the Creator, Vashtie, Spike Lee, and anyone who is Black that creates. I support everyone.

What do you hope to accomplish as an artist?

I hope that 20 years from now someone who is Black looks up to me like how I looked up to other Black artists. I hope that I break boundaries for them so that they can get closer to their goals. 

Is there a special art piece that you worked on which stands out for you. If so could you talk about it?

Yes!  My mural piece of Mega Man that I did at Art Basel 2019. My brother held the ladder for me the entire time. It’s my favorite piece and it still gets love like I just did it yesterday. 

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?

I haven’t experienced it a lot, but I have been in positions where I know I am the only Black person at a restaurant or in a movie, and it does feel weird and uncomfortable at times. 

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

I had more than one thought.

I talked to multiple people about the incident including my mom. It’s sad to have another conversation with her about these acts of injustice and how she wants me to be safe and aware wherever I go being a Black man in America. 

What actions have you taken to ensure that he gets justice?

Protest! Share my views on my platform! Spread as much awareness as I can…this is my first time protesting so I’m just doing whatever I feel is best to do during this time.

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

Don’t release your foot from the gas pedal! Keep applying pressure! 

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality? 

I am not sure. Everyone’s views are different and many have been doing their own things for years. I am just doing what I feel will benefit society and raise awareness for this injustice.   

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality. Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

I don’t know when or what, but I can say our voices will never be quiet. I have personally seen changes, but it’s still not enough. One day, week, year, or 10 years does not cover the 400 years that we have been fighting. 

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

You are witnessing something that is long overdue. Don’t take this time for granted.

What can young people do to support the movement?

Make a change everyday. Don’t make it a one week thing, make it a life thing.


Sean A. Robinson – Photographer

Sean A. Robinson is a photographer currently photographing the protests in Nashville. Hear our talk about the history which is being made right in front of everyone’s eyes.

*His amazing photos were in the video at the header of this post


Zakiyyah Woods – Photographer

Zakiyyah Woods is a photographer currently photographing the protests in NY. Read about our talk on racism and police.

*Her amazing photos were in the video at the header of this post

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Zakiyyah and I am a photographer. I was born in New York City, raised in Brooklyn. I’m a mother of a 13 year old son and am currently one of the millions of people unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As bad as it might seem, being out of work has allowed me to really focus on my photography and create images whenever I want instead of when not at work.

What inspired you to pursue photography and photograph the protests?

I’ve loved photography since the age of 12. Growing up in the 90’s and before the age of social media, photos were mostly taken to document major events (unless you were a professional photographer) such as holidays, birthdays, etc. I’ve always enjoyed looking through the massive collection of my family’s photo albums and have always enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction felt behind the camera, knowing that people will always appreciate the moments captured years later. The same can be said about why I decided to photograph the protests.

What do you hope to accomplish with your photography?

I hope my photography is able to accomplish what I’ve set out to do which is for myself and those of us in the Black community to accurately document the history that directly affects us today and our future generations. Far too many people outside of our community tend to distort the truth for the sake of winning awards or making front page of a publication.

Are there any Black creators that you look up to?

There are lots of Black creators I look up to. Far too many to name because their mediums are all-encompassing. However, Gordon Parks and James Van Der Zee are the first Black photographers I learned of and continue to inspire me.

Is there a special photo which you took which stands out for you. If so could you talk about it?

A photo I took that stands out the most for me is the one of a protester holding a sign that reads “NOW WE FIGHT! #JUSTICEFORGEORGE” with an NYPD helicopter hovering above. It was taken moment before a peaceful march turned aggressive at the hands of NYPD. The helicopter just did a buzz over the crowd, a move that is used in war zones, and was still flying close enough for the strong winds from the blades to send dirt and debris flying everywhere. But, a group of protesters held their signs high and tight as a form of resistance as well as shields from the dirt.

Is there a particular reason you like Black and white photography?

I enjoy Black and white photography when doing photojournalism work because it allows the viewer to see the story for what it is although yes, some photos are also excellent in color when capturing events like the current protests and marches because it also allows you to really feel the image.

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?

Racism is such a multi layered form of hate and presents itself as more than just a white person calling you the N-word. But, my first encounter with racism was via one of my high school English teachers constantly comparing the behaviors of my peers to that of the children in the schools in the suburbs in Upstate NY. This teacher was white and all of the students in the class was African-American, from the Caribbean or Afro-Latino. Her words rang clear: those students were better than us behaviorally and academically because of where they lived. At the time I did nothing because I was unaware of how racist her words were but now, as an adult, I recognize it and am constantly on the lookout for teachers of my son who may express those views so I can file proper reports.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

My initial thought when I heard of the death of George Floyd was “not again…!” because sadly, it seems almost every year there is a killing of an unarmed Black person that becomes national news but just imagine how many are not filmed.

It will always and forever be heartbreaking.

What actions have you taken to ensure that he gets justice?

I’ve signed a few petitions seeking the elevated charge for the primary officer, for the defunding of the police and have continued to march in the streets to add my voice to the shouts of protest.

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

There are so many factors that go towards seeking and obtaining justice. At this point, the case is in the hands of the judicial system. However, the most important part in justice being served for anyone in the future that will experience gross uses of power by the police is to vote in elected officials who make it clear what their agenda will be for the betterment of the Black, Brown and other marginalized communities.

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality?

Honestly, I don’t have a “best approach” for dealing with police brutality. I will, however, encourage others to continue to film the police whenever misconduct is happening and I also urge the “good cops” to start speaking out against the bad apples and hold their colleagues accountable. Had the other three officers on the scene demanded and possibly forced Chauvin’s knee from George Floyd’s neck, he would still be alive today.

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality. Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

My answer to the previous question can also be applied here. The only change between now and the past 10 and 20 years is the use of civilian cell phone footage that continues to expose the injustice.

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality?

Unfortunately, I know LOTS of people who have been affected by police brutality.

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

I would say to teens that are watching the news unfold is to educate themselves on racism in America from the time the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to today. Understand the layers of systemic racism, understand how laws were designed specifically to work against Black and brown people and to not be afraid or closed-minded when it comes to discussing it. Do not dismiss the stories your peers may share of their encounters and learn how you can help to make changes. Everyone’s job isn’t to hit the streets to protest. There are more things you can do individually and collectively. Also, when you turn 18, register to vote and do so for every election.


J. Pinder – Filmmaker and Photographer

J. Pinder is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer. Read our interview below as we talk about racism and the state of America

*His amazing photos were in the video at the header of this post

Tell me about yourself.

I’ve been living in Hollywood for over 10 years. I work in the industry as a writer/director of branded content who is also moving into TV and film. My latest short film, Seize, about a girl that gets stuck in a time loop and must figure out how to break the cycle in order to save her brother, can be seen here: trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XhBylSpbrw&t=3s 
full film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yREnAtmTOw&t=15s

What inspired you to pursue photography?

Photography is my father’s hobby so naturally, I picked it up. While I’m more of a filmmaker, I see the two mediums as one. Each frame in a second tells its own story. Quite often you don’t even need film or video to depict what’s happening. I love visual mediums because they cross language and cultural barriers.

What do you hope to accomplish with your photography?

When I went to the first protest, I wasn’t looking to accomplish anything. I just brought my camera with the hope of capturing the energy of the day, particularly because it was my first time. As the police escalated things, I felt I had to insert myself deeper into the hellish landscape in order to tell people what was going on.

Are there any Black creators that you particularly look up to?

There are so many, I can’t even list them. I’m not good with names, but the director of 13th, Spike Lee of course – how he didn’t get an Oscar for Malcolm X is beyond me. There are quite a few Black poets from back in the day that are astounding, Killer Mike and Run the Jewels, Common… the list goes on.

Is there a special photo which you took which stands out for you?

There are a few from Saturday’s march in West Hollywood. It was peaceful until the police showed up and escalated the situation. I took a few photos that, if you’re just scrolling past, you’d swear I took them in a war-torn country. This is WEHO. WTF happened?

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?

There are just too many to list. I’ve gotten hit from every angle possible, and I grew up outside of Philly. My own friends have been racist, cops have called me a n**ger.

These days I get hit with less overt racism like being called white or some variation of that, because Black people aren’t generally seen as educated.

I have to put people in their place a lot, which is exhausting. I have to pick and chose my battles. Like, why do I always have to educate these people? Go out and educate yourselves, I’m trying to enjoy the pool party.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

Here we go again.

What actions have you taken to ensure that George Floyd gets justice?

I’m out there marching as much as possible. I hope the photos I take tell the story of struggle and the people who just want to live the American dream. I also post a lot on IG about police brutality, which is still happening ON CAMERA while people are protesting police brutality. You can’t get more ironic than that!

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

He’ll never get justice. He’s dead. But we can march and vote out people, and keep shooting video of bad police until the laws change in favor of the people. Think about that. Why don’t we change the laws to favor the people who not only pay for the police, but are supposed to be protected by them? It’s like hiring a personal security guard and then having them turn around and beat the sh*t out of you.

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality? 

Pay cops more money. 6 figures. Fire all the bad cops, and make it difficult to become one. Make it a degree field, 4 years of study at the least. This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but we have to start somewhere.

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality.  Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

I’ve seen changes, but mainly because we all have cameras now. That’s the biggest. I think it will take…. 11 years.

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality?

We’ve all been affected. Even right now as I sit here the helicopter is doing circles over my house. I just realized I was having a mild panic attack. When I was on my way home a cop “popped a Uey” and followed me for a bit. My heart was racing, uncertain of how it would end. Just watching someone be murdered in front of your eyes on video will affect you. Being taught that the police are out to kill you will affect you. I dream that my children won’t have to go through this, but I’m sure they will.

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

Stay strong, stay vigilant. Don’t go to protests alone. The cops are scooping people up. But they will be the change when all is said and done, if they get out and vote, and keep marching.

What can young people do to support the movement?

Educate themselves on their rights, what’s going on. If they can march, march. like share and tag every video of police brutality. Follow Black Lives Matter. If you’re white, educate your white friends. Get them on the team. Enough is enough. Right now we’re the laughing stock of the world. We’re the backward country. We need to change that.


Demont Pinder – Artist

Demont Pinder is an artist who paints and documents history. Read our conversation about his career and his message to young people across the country

Tell me about yourself.

My name is a Demont Pinder I am an art historian, and creative I capture and document history in a vibrant way.

What inspired you to start painting?

As a child, one of the first things they put in our hands are crayons and markers. I kept them in my pocket growing up I guess I fell in love with creativity and the effect it had/has on others so I’ve always wanted to continue to do it just advancing and use different mediums each year. 

What do you hope to accomplish with your paintings?

What I hope to accomplish in my paintings is to bring light to dark situations bring a positive feeling to anything negative, unite people, make them feel good,  visually make the world a better place. I hope my paintings inspire the masses to do the same 

Is there a special painting which you did which stands out for you?

I’ve done so many paintings of many different subjects, but one of my most recent and special pieces is not a painting but a portrait of  George Floyd ( Black man murdered in Minnesota by an officer who kneeled on his neck for 8 mins 46 secs ). it’s his face made out of using my clothes. I call this style #dpinderfabricart.  I’m actually a part of it, literally, in the top left corner you can see me blended as a part of his hairline. 

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?


Fortunately, I haven’t experienced too much racism directly or first-hand, nothing like you see or hear from others. In the past, I was able to deal with it in a mild manner, and the situation got rectified.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?


My initial thoughts when I heard about George Floyd were I couldn’t believe what I just watched… here we go again smh. It was heartbreaking and anger just starting building up like how can someone be so hateful .. why??

What actions have you taken to ensure that he gets justice?


The actions I’ve taken to make sure George gets justice are, simply saying, and bringing awareness to his name, well in my case creating a visual that will show the face of a man who innocently murdered. I’m artistically visually protesting 

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

I’m not sure what actions we all can take to make sure he gets justice. I just think we can all simply do our individual part whatever that means to the individual only he/she will know that.

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality?

In my opinion, the best approach to dealing with police brutality is to avoid as much contact with the police, maybe that’s inevitable ??? I personally try to stay out the way and if ever in contact with the law I try my best to comply. Prime example… one day I was speeding on a highway running late for an event … flew past police and immediately knew I was in the wrong… I pulled over before he put his lights on. By the time he approached my car, it was off and I had my license and registration in my hand. I told him I was in the wrong and he respected it, was surprised that he didn’t have to chase me. Fortunately for me, he came back with a warning but my point is, in that situation I was blessed it didn’t escalate into anything… that’s not the case in many others. Each case is different and some may be unpreventable

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality?

I think police brutality will end when the masses are held accountable for their actions .. when police start policing the police then we will see the change more than we have these past 10/20 years 

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality?

Yes, I have heard stories about police brutality through friends that have experienced it.. racially profiled, beat up while in handcuffs, and taken to jail…Thank God he survived

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

To the teens and young people watching this unfold on the news, especially my culture, hopefully, they’ll see how much of a bigger problem we face daily as being Black, and that will enlighten them to change their way of thinking.

Maybe they will realize that the problems they thought they have are really minor. This may bring a sense of unity amongst the new and next-generation. I want them to support and uplift each other more.

For decades we’ve endured so much hate for one another it’s time to change that.. we all need each other 

What can young people do to support the movement


The best way young people can support the Movement is to watch and listen. They’ll know how to fit in or fill in the gaps. There is work to be done they have to figure out what part they can or want to play.

Tony Davis – Photographer

Tony Davis is a photographer who is currently photographing the protests in New York. Read our conversation below about the protests and racism in America.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Tony Davis. I’m 33, born and raised in Brooklyn  NY. I’m a father of 2 beautiful girls and I currently work for Trader Joes. I love music, basketball, photography, sneakers, and art.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Well, both of my parents passed away, and if it wasn’t for all the pictures in the family photo books I wouldn’t have such good memories of them. In my own way, I like to do that for other people; leave them with memories

What is your goal with your photography?

My goal is to be able to travel the world through my camera. I wanna get invited to all the big events worldwide; NBA finals, fashion week. I want to visit different countries and have a chance to experience their cultures.

What inspired you to start photographing the protests?

I’m not big on protesting but this situation was just so wrong, and so are many other situations like this one. I just wasn’t comfortable sitting home watching it unfold on the TV, I wanted to be there my self. I always have my camera with me, and at the moment I started to realize that this is a part of history. Since I don’t like to talk much I felt I’d speak through my pictures

How does being at the protests feel? Can you describe a bit of the atmosphere?

It feels amazing to be amongst a bunch of united people that feel the same way as you do. The energy was something I never felt before. I usually hate walking, but with that energy around me, I walked tons of blocks.

Is there a favorite photo of yours that stands out?

Not really, I like them all, they all stand for the same thing. Some just show it in different ways.

Can you talk about moments where you have experienced racism and how you responded?

I’ve experienced racism so much, I’m just used to it now.

When I notice it, I just distance my self from it …laugh at em, and then pray for em, but I don’t waste too much of my time on em.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

At first, I was like how do the cops just keep getting away with these types of things… like what type of person are you to think that this ok. Black, white, no matter what color, wrong is wrong…

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality.  Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

Cut their checks or fine them… the only thing that changed in 20 years is that its getting recorded and watched by the world, by kids, teens, adults, older people, we all see it …

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality? 

Me… I was beaten up by police and thrown on a car covered with snow and ice when I was only 16. All because they said I fit the description…a white lady was just robbed by someone that looked like me 😒 … all that, for them to later get a call saying they got the suspect, and then say sorry and drive off.

What would you say to teens who are watching all of this unfold on the news?

I would say, if you want to be a cop, be one that’s gonna help change the world for the better,  or at least will help prevent more situations like this.

Travon Free – Writer/Photographer/Activist

Travon Free is a is an American comedian and actor and writer. Read our interview below about police brutality and what everyone should be doing to support the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a writer, producer, director, Black bisexual man who picked up a camera and decided to document the world around him.

What inspired you to start photographing the riots and movement?

I’ve been photographing on the streets for the last three years so being a Black american it was a natural progression.

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?

If I talked about the times I’ve experienced racism, we’d be writing a book. Let’s just say…We need to figure out how to put an end to it. Being as loudly and proudly Black as I am is the best opposition to racism.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

“This doesn’t surprise me at all.” “Here we go again.” “Another one.”

What actions have you taken to ensure that he gets justice?

A lot of things. I’ve marched, protested, taken photos. Disseminated information to force police to change their policies. Written letters. Pretty much all the things Black people do when these things happen.

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

Use your platform; use your voice; take to the streets. Stop letting your white friends be silent about injustice. And vote for the right people.

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality? 

Getting rid of the police. Replace them with something more community oriented.

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality.  Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

There have been little changes, but there will only continue to be little changes until you get rid of a rotten police system born out of slave patrols.

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality?

I’m Black.

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

Pay close attention to what is happening and what is being said and learn from it.

You can create a generation that doesn’t have to relive these same horrors.

What can young people do to support the movement? Is there something more than posting on social media that we should be doing.

Yes, protest. Talk to your local and state representatives. Call them. Email them. Bug the sh*t out of them. Make them change laws in order to prevent these things from happening. Use your voices and your creativity in ways that highlight the issues that need attention. Just. Do. Something.

Nikki Lynette – Artist and Mental Health Activist

Nikki Lynette is an artist and mental health activist. Read our conversation about how to stay healthy during this time.

Instagram: @nikkilynette

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Nikki Lynette. I’m an indie artist and a mental health advocate. I make music and art that is inspired by my mental illness. I am a suicide survivor and I strive to give other people the representation and compassion that I needed when I was in crisis 

What inspires you to pursue activism and fight racism?

When it comes to Black issues, I don’t feel like I am an activist. I speak up about racial disparity because it affects me and my people. Black lives not mattering is a human rights issue, it’s my responsibility to do my part to affect change. When it comes to mental health, my activism is about representation and visibility. I inspire people to talk about it because the silence is killing us.

What do you try to accomplish with your activism?

In my mental health activism I just try to be a source of representation and support. I work to normalize therapy, and to stop normalizing toxic and abusive social norms. My focus is on underrepresented demographics within the mental health conversation, which includes Black people and people of color, queer people, and poor people. Our specific needs and perspectives are factored into the conversation enough. So there is currently a push for more culturally competent care for people who are suffering, and that’s really important to me.

Are there any Black creators that you support?

Kaori Nik, Scott Bernard, Toshia Shaw, Angelica Ross, Morgan Sherm, there are sooooo many amazing Black creators with substance!

Can you talk about moments where you have experienced racism and how you responded?

I spent half of my upbringing in predominantly white schools. So I got called n*gger and had people talk to me with an exaggerated “blaccent,” has people stick gum in my books, and stuff like that. I never internalized it, I always knew they were stupid. It has always pissed me off, though. Nowadays, I get targeted by racists on social media when I talk about Black issues. It amazes me how many people are comfortable with being willfully ignorant. I choose not to make their ignorance be my problem.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

I feel the same pain and outrage every time.

What actions do you think that we can all take to ensure he gets justice? What is the best way to support the movement?

Be vocal. Hold politicians accountable to creating change. And don’t stop. The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for 381 days before segregation on buses was ruled unconstitutional. People have to be consistent. This is how we change things.

Tensions are high right now, and stress is quite high. What is your advice on dealing with that?

I think people can benefit from acknowledging that their feelings are valid, and giving themselves room for self-care. I recently joined a Black hiking group, and it has been extremely cathartic. It’s important that while we fight for Black lives, we take moments to experience joy, to reinvigorate us and allow us to release. It’s important.

Are there any mental health tips you think everyone should remember during this time?

Just understand that it’s ok to not feel ok. The discomfort we all feel is happening for a reason. Acknowledge your pain instead of pushing it down.

And never underestimate the importance of taking baby steps toward feeling better. Taking walks, laughing with friends, reading empowering books, and eating healthy, are all things that can help. And another thing… you don’t have to wait until you are in crisis to talk to a therapist. I think anyone can benefit from therapy! If you need help, get it. And if you aren’t sure what to do or where to start, call NAMI. It can change your life.

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality. Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

I don’t know what it will take. I am seeing a few different perspectives on the subject and I am still informing myself before I decide which one feels most effective to me. I don’t know if there has been much improvement over the years because now that we are all walking around with cameras on our phones, the injustice has become more visible. I can’t celebrate any progress when the reality of the injustices are being shared all the time.

What would you say to teens who are watching all of this unfold on the news?

I would say seek to understand. There is a history that inspired the unrest and upheaval we are seeing. Learn about racial disparity and the civil rights movement. Learn about how reparations were promised to Blacks but not given, how the war on drugs targeted Black people, how police brutality impacts Black people disproportionately.

It’s not about police as individuals, it’s about a system that has harmed Black people for far too long.

Anything else you want to talk about?

Black issues, gay issues, trans issues, women’s issues are human rights issues. That means we all have a responsibility to do our part. Injustice for one is injustice for is all.

Aclesia Miller

Instagram: @aclesiacoaches

Aclesia Miller is a Mindest Coach. Listen to our conversation about activism and fighting racism in our daily lives.

Shevrin Jones

Shevrin Jones is a Florida State representative. Read our conversation about what goes on behind the scenes in politics

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Shevrin Jones, I’m currently the State Representative for District 101, which includes Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Pembroke Park, West Park, Hollywood, and Hallandale. I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit that focuses on increasing literacy skills in children age 3 to 5, in order to close the school-to-prison pipeline. Before that I was a teacher for nine years, teaching AP Biology. I studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Florida A&M University. I’m the proud son of my parents, Dr. Eric Jones and Ms. Bloneva, Jones.

I’m proud to be in a position where I can amplify the voices of others. As a State Representative, I’ve been able to pass bills to impact the lives of people who aren’t often represented in government. We pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, two years in a row to give women protection while they’re incarcerated. And while we don’t have many representatives who are formerly incarcerated women to present that, I am still able to ally with those women and protect them. I’m also a major advocate for education initiatives and making sure that we’re doing right by kids. We don’t have many teachers who are Representatives at the table to explain how to fix the education issues, but I’m proud to be one of them. Through the work I do, I get to interact with and advocate for people, and help to make our state better.

What inspired you to become a politician?

When I first became a teacher, there were a lot of people in government saying that teachers were evil, that schools were failure factories, and I didn’t like it. So I decided to run for office. I ran for the County Commission not knowing that the County Commission has nothing to do with the education budget, but it gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to the community and a lot of volunteers got my name out there. From there, when I lost, my friends convinced me to run for the state House seat, and I have served here from 2012 on through my last term in 2020.

What do you hope to accomplish as a politician? (specifically in the realm of fighting racism)

I’m very invested in the development of Black children. And I want to make education a real opportunity for them so that they can navigate not just the professional world well, but the social world, get into governmental roles, and expand opportunities to them. We need to put resources into the development of children at a very young age so that they can succeed, and I think we can close the education gap if we make the right changes.

Besides education, there’s a whole host of ways that we can fight racism through governmental policy. We need to radically change policing and mass incarceration in this country, and we can only do it with several seats at the table.

Is there a special mission or cause which you worked for which stands out for you. If so could you talk about it?

I’m one of the founders of a nonprofit organization called L.E.A.D. Nation, which is a youth mentoring organization. We’ve successfully put hundreds of students through the program and the program still boasts a 100% graduation rate since its founding. We’ve seen our graduates go in to do amazing things in college and after, and I’m so proud of each student that’s gone through the program.

Can you talk about moments you have experienced racism and what you have done?

Two sessions ago, I filed amendments on a bill that was to arm teachers. I asked for implicit bias training for those teachers, so they can understand their preconceived prejudices. And I asked for teachers who use their gun while there isn’t an active shooter present to not be able to use stand your ground law as a defense. After I did that, one of my colleagues in the house said that I was implying that teachers are racist. The link above was the speech I responded with.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the death of George Floyd?

I cried

What actions have you taken to ensure that he gets justice?

Marching, sitting at the table with decision-makers to fix it and decide how to move from conversation to content

What actions can we all take to ensure he gets justice?

Keep marching and hold leaders accountable

In your opinion, what is the best approach to dealing with police brutality? 

Holding police accountable, getting rid qualified immunity

When and what do you think it will take to end police brutality.  Have you seen any changes in the past 10 to 20 years?

We need to get rid of bad cops. We need to make the rules change so that cops who have a bad history cannot simply be rehired by a different police force. Those people have no business being cops.

Do you have a close friend or family member who has been affected by police brutality?

All the people who are affected by police brutality are family to me. We may not be close, but we’re all connected spiritually.

What would you say to teens and young people who are watching this unfolding on the news?

Stop watching, get involved. Find a friend who knows about politics, find a mentor who knows politics, and keep learning. Then, convince your parents and grandparents to get involved too because it can’t just be young people fighting for what’s right. We need everybody on the field

This has been my favorite post to date
and I am so thankful to everyone who shared their stories!

Author: Eshan

My name is Eshan Vishwakarma. I am 16 years old, I go to J.R Tucker High School, and I'm a cancer survivor. I love acting and dancing. I play volleyball and I like hanging out with my friends. I think that's it so, check out the blog, leave a comment, and subscribe if you like the stuff I write. Thank you for coming :)

3 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter

Leave a Reply