Freshman activist leads protest at Five Corners

Freshman Graysen Kirk was the organizer behind the protest on June 1 that drew more than 300 community members to Five Corners. Inspired by Colin Kaepernick and nationwide kneeling for moments of silence, and with the help of former teacher and mentor Mathea Moreis, Graysen created an opportunity for community protest in response to racial injustice. Below is some of what she had to say, along with quotes from other high school students in attendance.

Graysen Kirk, freshman

“I never imagined that so many people would show up and it would be such a success. I thought it might just be me and my sign. A big part of this protest was giving people in this community the voice they felt like they didn’t have. Being away from the mainland, we cannot speak up or stand out like others. [Racial inequity] is not OK, it’s never been OK, and we are done putting up with it. I will never stop fighting, and I hope my message inspires others to do the same.”

Lydia Carlos, junior

“I’m angry, and I felt helpless, but when I found out there was something I could do, I jumped at the chance. [At work,] I’ve had customers say to me, ‘Do you speaky English,’ or ‘What are you?’ but I have never had a father, mother, or friend murdered by a police officer as a result of the color of their skin. I don’t want to look back at this in the future and say I didn’t do anything.”

Michael Trusty, junior 

“I should be able to walk in any city, in any clothes, and not be scared to get arrested, or harmed, or harassed by a cop. We are all human, and there is no reason for a person to have many more advantages and privileges just because of the pigment in their skin. If there is any protest that I can attend, I will be there. I have been signing petitions for justice, and to get the cops involved in Gorge Floyd’s death arrested and charged accordingly, and I’ve been donating even a little bit to antiracism foundations.”

Maria Menezes, junior

“People are mourning, they’re in pain, they’re frustrated, and they’re hurt. Black lives are exponentially impacted by an inherently broken and racist system that is supposed to be protecting them, but instead makes them fear for their lives. I believe our community does a good job of bringing attention to these issues; we just need to be more proactive. There is a very long road ahead of us, but there is hope. Change is coming.”

Gus Hoy, class of 2019

“All white people benefit from systematic racism somehow, which makes us all also a part of the problem. That makes it our civic duty to stand for justice when we need to. Recognizing when you yourself have been biased is key, even if it brings discomfort. There won’t be any positive change from a movement like this without the discomfort of facing reality, which is that as a white person, I am part of the problem, and I am working on changing that. No positive change comes about unless YOU actually get out and fight for it. America is defined by protests; we wouldn’t be here today without them.”