A Message To The Pecan Grove Community:

I am 23 years old and I grew up in Pecan Grove. I am white. Some of you know who I am because of my dad. His name was Ken Caminiti and he played for the Astros, which is why my family moved to PG before I was born. With that being said, I grew up very privileged and was handed almost every opportunity needed to succeed. I went to Pecan Grove Elementary from Kindergarten to 5th grade, attended Crockett Middle School, graduated from Travis High School, and just recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Having grown up here, I’ve noticed a few things about our PG community. For starters, I noticed that I had barely any black classmates at Pecan Grove Elementary, maybe one or two in my classroom. I didn’t understand this as a kid. I thought this was normal, I thought this was just how life was going to be. Then I went to Crockett.

Crockett Middle School was far more diverse. It shaped me into who I am. I’m so blessed to have made so many lifelong friends (of all races) while attending Crockett. Sadly, some of my black friends did not feel comfortable coming over to my house in Pecan Grove. In 7th grade, one of my closest friends (who is black) rode the school bus home with me for the first time. As we entered the neighborhood, she asked “Does that sign say Plantation?” I said yes, and we were both quiet for a little while. I didn’t really understand why she asked, because at the time I didn’t associate plantation with slavery, I associated it with my neighborhood. Read that last sentence again.

Pecan Grove was obviously built to reflect old southern ideology. After all, Old South Dr is one of the main streets in PG. In addition to Old South, we have Confederate Ct, Plantation Dr, Old Dixie Dr, Colonel Ct, and my least favorite of them all, Brown School Ct. I am not writing this to shame the PG community, as none of us built this place. I am NOT writing this to persuade the PG community to update the street names, although some should be changed. I am NOT writing this to encourage anyone to “forget our state’s history.” No, I am writing this to shine a light on a problem that many of you do not want to acknowledge. Our community does not welcome the black community as well as we should. Many of you have not placed yourself into the shoes of your black brothers and sisters. You have not thought about how unwelcome these black children feel in Pecan Grove, you have not thought about how awkward it is for them to learn about what actually happened on plantations, what the confederacy was fighting for, and how awful segregation was to their recent ancestors. When your white children tell their black friends that they live on Plantation Dr, Confederate Ct, or Brown School Ct, these black children do not think of streets, they think of racism. Again, I am not trying to persuade anyone to change these street names (even though they are outdated and should be renamed). Instead, I am encouraging our PG to community to welcome our black neighbors. Care for them. Understand their frustration with systemic racism and years and years of oppression. Let them know that you are NOT the people who built this place and named these streets. Whether you know it or not, your black neighbors are surrounded by white ideology. Be an ally, not an enemy.

PG community, please educate yourself on systemic racism. Some of you pretend that it doesn’t exist. It does exist. During my time at the University of Texas, the black population was only 3.9%. This has nothing to do with academic ability and everything to do with opportunity, privilege, and systemic issues. I could go on and on about institutionalized racism, but I’ll leave that to my next article. Right now, I encourage our PG community to focus on welcoming our black brothers and sisters. Start saying Black Lives Matter, because they do matter. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter. Love your black neighbors who don’t dress like you, who are different than you, who had different upbringings than you. Understand that their anger with injustice is justified.

My name is Nicole, I am white, I am 23 years old, and I stand with Black Lives Matter. To my black brothers and sisters: I hear you, I am fighting for you, I am protesting for you, I will do anything I can to change both conscious and unconscious racism. If there is anything you would like me to promote and share, if there’s anything I can do at all, please feel free to add me and message me on here.

To my white brothers and sisters: when someone says Black Lives Matter, don’t argue. Just listen.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

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