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Turning fear into power

Shania Leila Brace sitting outside during sunset smiling.
Shania Leila Brace
Courtesy photo

This personal essay is part of the Chalkbeat Student Takeover: a weeklong project meant to elevate the voices of students at this pivotal moment in America. Read more from the takeover here.

Like most people in America, each morning I wake up, brush my teeth, fix my hair, and eat breakfast to start the day. The only difference between me and the average white person is that the very first thing I do is pray for my father, brothers, cousins, and other people in my family because I am worried about their lives. I worry because at any moment I could get a call informing me that a person I love has been brutally killed by a police officer.

Being a biracial woman in America does not mean that I experience racism by half. I too deal with racial discrimination from friends, family, strangers, and society as a whole simply because of the color of my skin. I too wake up with a target on my back, fearing for my life and the lives of other Black people living in America. None of us knows who will be the next headline.

Today’s movement has turned the fear that I have into power: the power to use my voice and actions to support Black Lives Matter and advocate for changes to the systems that oppress Black Americans. Hopefully, the work I and others have been doing will make our country and the entire world a safer place for Black people. My goal is that future generations do not grow up fearing for their lives. I am ready to be a part of the change that we want to see.

This fall, I will be going to college. While I haven’t yet thought too much about how my activism will tie into my higher education, I hope I have opportunities to engage like I have here in Denver. I want every single person around me to gain the same confidence I have that there will be a major change in the near future. Today’s youth is ready to fight and work to make sure that the ideal world we always dreamed of becomes a reality. The work that each of us is putting in is going to be worth it in the end. We are just getting started.

Shania Leila Brace graduated from STRIVE Prep - RISE charter school in Denver in May and will be attending Howard University this fall.

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