The following piece was written by Noelle Burwell, a senior at Palo Alto High School. The pictures were taken at the White Coats for Black Lives march at Stanford University.

Dear America,

I am disappointed.

I am disappointed that you have continued to uphold the idea that this is the “land of the free and home of the brave,” yet have promoted a system that does not equally grant such freedoms to all of your people.

I am disappointed that in this country there is an undeniable double-standard under the law and in the minds of those that are supposedly tasked with protecting the citizens of this nation.

I am disappointed that for centuries Black men and women have been degraded and targeted, yet insufficient action has been taken to purify the corrupt system that this nation was built on.

I am disappointed that we have to walk through the streets yelling that our lives matter in order to finally shed light on the broken system at the core of this country.

I am disappointed that my parents, as educated Black individuals, must endure demeaning micro-inequities and aggressions concerning their race within the workplace and then come home every night with new stories to tell.

I am disappointed that my grandparents have painful stories and active memories of fighting for their rights through sit-ins and protests back when it was illegal for them to even sit at a restaurant with their White counterparts.

I am disappointed that I have to wonder why it requires our lives being taken for our pleas of injustice to start being heard.

I am so thoroughly disappointed in this country’s treatment of its own Black Americans because I am so unbelievably proud to be Black.

I am so proud of the perseverance and strength that comes with my melanated skin. I am proud of how we, as a community, have begun to reclaim our futures and change the narrative of the stereotypical Black American that this country has written for us.

I am proud that I am able to identify with such a rich and powerful culture and community that continues to fight for its overdue equality.

I am proud to be reminded of the continuous accomplishments that we have made throughout history despite the oppressive weights that have been put on our shoulders.

I am proud that in the midst of such tragedy, we continue to carry on the legacies of those whose futures have been stolen and lives taken too soon.

Most of all, I am proud that within a country that has continued to undermine and degrade our worth in society, we continue to redefine and elevate the meaning of Black excellence.

Your very own


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