A Letter to America

A Letter to America

Dear America, 

Racism is a disease that has plagued our nation for centuries, filling our cities and towns with hatred and violence. Across America today, innocent men and women fear being hurt or murdered by racist law enforcement officers. Demonstrating against the strangling grip of racism, peaceful protestors fill the streets. In some states, police officers retaliate with pepper spray and tear gas. A cycle of violence is ignited. People are angry. Fires rage outside the White House. Police vehicles are smashed and burned in Boston. Tears fall down the faces of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers suffering from loss. This is America. 

“I can’t breathe,” said a black man named George Floyd. As a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, three other police officers stood by watching. This was following the arrest of an alleged $20 bill fraud. Floyd is the most recent case of police brutality that has ignited a plethora of passion in the Black Lives Matter movement. Anger and frustration are evident all over social media and throughout protests across the country. The Minneapolis police department has fired all four officers involved, charging Derek Chauvin (the man who is seen pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck) with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other police officers are currently under investigation. 

According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, in 2015 alone, unarmed black people were killed at five times the rate of unarmed white people. 99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime, so there is no accountability. 

It was a hairbrush, not a gun. It was a vape, not a gun. He was jogging, not fleeing from a robbery. It was a fake $20 bill, not the murder of five people. 

Throughout history into the present day, black men have been disproportionately punished for crimes that are uncomparable to those of white men. Peter Manfredonia, a white man who is a suspect of double murders and many violent crimes, was taken into custody by police without any lethal force used or any violence enacted by police. While George Floyd, who supposedly used a fake $20 bill, was aggressively pinned down on the ground for eight minutes and 46 seconds even after Floyd lost consciousness. And for another full minute after the paramedics arrived. 

In reality, these targeted, racist crimes amplify the tensions and injustices that have been evident since the beginning of American history. Slavery came to North America in 1619, and it wasn’t until the Civil War that freedom was established. When southern states began to establish “Jim Crow” laws, segregation and racism continued. Many court cases followed, but it wasn’t until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine was overturned legally. Unfortunately, 65 years later, these racial inequalities are still not abolished nor solved. 

Living in a primarily white middle-class community, many Scituate students struggle to understand what it means to be a person of color in America. People often refer to the town as a “bubble,” sheltered from the injustices that infect the “outside world.” Nevertheless, students at Scituate High School have experienced a handful of racist events, shining a spotlight on the need to teach students the importance of cultural humility. After some of our classmates used their social media accounts to showcase blackface and trivialize the n-word, many Scituate students saw that racism has penetrated the so-called “bubble.” 

With the recent influx of racial violence across America, some people in Scituate have united to show their support. People are holding signs in various places around town. Residents have placed Black Lives Matter signs on their lawns. Teenagers have been actively using their social media accounts to raise awareness about the current racial injustices while encouraging their peers to sign petitions and make phone calls. 

America is simultaneously facing two pandemics: racism and Covid-19. This poses a challenge for those who want to promote justice by protesting while simultaneously being socially distant. Whether you choose to protest in person, make a sign for your lawn, sign a petition, or give a donation to a charity, it is important to be aware and take action toward the issue of racism. 

As we wait for a vaccine to fight Covid-19, the vaccine to fight racism lies within each of us. We have the power to use our voices to spread love and kindness. We have the power to dispel and break down certain stereotypes that have been supported by communities across America. We have the power to side with those who have been deprived of their right to “life, liberty, and justice.” We cannot be afraid to use our power, together. 


Maeve Lawler (SHS Class of 2021) and Madeleine Levesque (SHS Class of 2020)