Black Mexican teen embodies “Black Lives Matter” movement
Growing up as a teenager in this point of history is no easy feat. It definitely is not like the teens who lost their lives in the early 1900s, but growing up right now in a time of political and social strife when you are the topic of that strife is difficult.
This is the case for Melissa Wells, a 16-year-old Black Mexican living in Westchester, New York. Wells’s mother is a native born Mexican while her father is African American. The question of Mexican immigration and the topic of Black Lives Matter are two issues she must deal with every single day of her life.
“Living in smaller towns, I didn’t realize there wasn’t a lot of diversity necessarily in my town. As I get older and try to figure out what I want to do with my life, it is hard to see the kind of racial tensions that come up and not have an opinion and not want to do something about it,” Wells said.
Wells frequently wears a white baseball cap with the OVO black owl stitched into the fabric. On the back of the hat, “Black Lives Matter” is written in indelible marker to showcase to the world the ideals she stands for and her strive for equality of her culture.
“My passion for social justice doesn’t stop at racism but has been focused as of late on the budding Black Lives Matter movement. At my school, my Black Student Union disbanded, the Stand Against Racism club was merely a name, and the Martin Luther King acknowledgment ceremony we had was focused on the LGBTQ community — something MLK had nothing to do with. Needless to say, I felt that neither teachers nor many students wanted to talk about or understand issues revolving around racism,” Wells said.
Thus, Wells wanted to protest for her right to practice and learn about her culture meanwhile preaching the need for equality and social fairness. When she and her peers asked their principal if they could protest against club discrimination, the principal stated that protesting would result in detention and suspension.
“Alongside a teacher, we tried using tape over our mouths with the words ‘I can’t breathe’ as a statement in solidarity with Eric Garner against police brutality. We didn’t make it through the whole day with the tape on and when we tried to lay flat on the school floor or walked around the lobby with our hands up as in ‘Hands up, Don’t Shoot,” we were told it blocked the school entrance. I was even called the ‘black mama’ of the group,” Wells said.
Wells strives to start the conversation on black lives. She wants to catch people’s attention, she wants them to ask questions, and she wants notify the world about the inequalities happening within the U.S., a place known for freedom but hardly expresses it.
“‘Why would we need to pray for black lives?’ Because they are the ones, who at the moment, may need us the most. I hope to add more words soon to the ones that are already written,” Wells said.