Jeffrey Reyes-Espinal, Amityville Memorial High School, attending Mercy College in Manhattan in the fall.
"Being from a community that is known for its low income, people around the Island understand the reputation that the community holds. What most don't know is that there are two versions of my community. One is the larger, poorer, unincorporated town and the other half is a waterside village, million-dollar houses, retired and majority-white residents. My experience begs the question, how do we ameliorate the issue of racism on Long Island? First, you identify that there's an issue. At these school board meetings, the public and administration expressed their concern over the fact of minority lack of representation. Second, access. My school district opened up committees to research this very topic, worked with specific hiring associations that specialized in POC hirings. This access means voting, hiring, admissions to universities. The more you address an issue, the more opportunities that arise to solve it. That is where we start."
Faith Shaw, Westbury High School, attending Long Island University: Brooklyn in the fall
"I learned how to make my presence quiet, how to not draw attention to myself when my skin had already made me the lone wolf. I learned how to change the way I talked, my deep timber exchanged for something softer, lighter, higher. How to make my tall frame disappear amongst the crowds. It wasn't until I was in a room that looked so different from my neighborhood that I learned what it felt like to feel other. It became difficult for me to navigate these situations with any sort of confidence. I had already felt a plethora of eyes looking at me for reasons I could not control. So to find any sort of comfort, I subconsciously worked to make myself as unmentionable as possible. This is how I spent the first two years of High School whenever I found myself in these situations. It wasn't until 11th grade, and my discovery of spoken word poetry that things changed."
T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST:
Sean Stergis, Woodland Middle School (East Meadow Schools)
Support ERASE Racism and buy Sean's winning T-Shirt here!