Nutley Protest: Spotlight on Aria Jennings
On June 7th, hundreds of people marched through Nutley in solidarity in response to the recent deaths due to police brutality, specifically George Floyd of Minnesota. The protest started with a gathering in Yanticaw Park where people listened to the leaders of the protest as well as other black community members who spoke about personal experiences and the importance of the movement.
One individual, Aria Jennings, is a senior at Nutley High School who not only marched in the streets but provided input on the necessity for Nutley to address the issues of racism throughout the community, especially as the town becomes more diverse. She stated that she has repeatedly experienced racism growing up in Nutley and believes that the black community “needs to be heard” and that everyone regardless of race should be “respected.” She then explained that Nutley Schools needs to be a place where “racism is not tolerated.” Jennings believes that words are empty without action. She asks the members of the protest to “demand action” and voice the injustice at the local level. This, she says, is essential in changing your community.
“Demand action. Demand diversity. Go to the board,” Aria says. She asks community members to open their eyes to racial discrimination, especially ones that can easily be made by peers. “Step in” and “step up,” she insists. “Silence is acceptance.”
Aria acknowledged how everyone at the protest was there because of recent events of police brutality involving George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the recent birthday of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot in her own home in Louisville on March 13th. She urged everyone to continue to fight for black lives as we all still live in a system that not only limits black people, but targets them.
We all knew that racism existed, but hopefully people of privilege understand how deep the issue is now. It is important to understand that if you are white, you can never understand the pain black people experience on a daily basis, but that is where your empathy can, and should, stem from. Quarantine has allowed for privileged people to be educated in a manner that did not exist before. Social media platforms are consumed with posts regarding racism. Systemic racism is being explored and students are urged to question the society we live in. Many of us have also read the gruesome stories of people who have experienced brutality or have had a loved one who has endured violence because of their race.
With this being said, I am somewhat shifting gears as I personally express to white readers that it is our time to listen, but also speak out and enact change as we can not continue to keep the burden on black communities across the nation. I urge us to not attempt to place ourselves in their shoes while also acknowledging that it is very difficult as we have never exhibited that type of because of something as simple as our skin color.
Please take in Aria’s words and understand that this fight is complex, for what seems to be no reason. If you are donating to organizations, please continue to do so. If you feel comfortable going to public places at this point in the pandemic, then consider marching for the people who can not do so anymore as their lives were ripped away because of their skin color. This is not a war but rather it is a call for change in various police systems across the nation as we continue to witness immoral acts.
All police are not bad. People are using certain rhetoric to call to the attention of injustice within people of authority. Please do not let statements shift your focus. Please help. Listen to people who have experienced it. Access your morals and your personal empathy. Listen. Read. Educate yourselves. If you believe you are educated, then educate others in the most orderly and patient manner as it is our obligation as moral beings.
Black Lives Matter. Thank you for your bold and touching words, Aria.
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