Juliana...

A few months ago on January 6th, 2021, the United States capitol was attacked by violent extremists and Trump supporters while the senate was finalizing the electoral college’s votes for the 2020 election. A month later, Mr. Trump faced his second impeachment trial as a result of “inciting” this insurrection.

Like so many of us, I viewed the events at the capitol as a threat to our democracy, an institution for which many of our ancestors have sacrificed their lives to create. I found this incident very frustrating, very angering, and very sad and I still have so many questions. The police’s response in this moment compared to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests was disproportionate. The mob was trespassing, vandalizing government property, and leading an insurrection on the US capitol and there were few arrests. Instead, there are now infamous videos of police patiently speaking with protestors and even taking selfies together. On the other hand, the police violently beat, arrested, and even killed peaceful protesters during the Black Lives Matter movement.

These events are disheartening, and I read, hear, and see how our country’s systems of government that are meant to uphold equality for all are broken. I am a senior in high school and in my Government and History classes. I talk with my teachers and peers about how each of us would help improve our nation if we were leaders. To me, I would start with studying our past mistakes and try to figure out a way to do things differently. We all have to take responsibility to make change, it is up to each of us to work every day to make things better.

To me and many of my friends, the events of this year underscore the importance of voting, and electing politicians to represent us in our government. We have a responsibility to learn about each candidate and how they intend to change our city and country so that we know, with confidence, who we should vote to represent our voice. It seems like this is the only way to steer our government in the right direction and I wish that all schools would work to register all students eligible to vote, and maybe even share basic information on each candidate, so that our generation is automatically engaged in our democratic system.

Much of what my teachers have taught me isn’t in the hundreds of pages of textbooks I read each year, but in the stories and memories of people and history. It’s in the conversations we have at school as we process current events together and talk about reality honestly.

Life can be scary and difficult but I know that we all have the power to improve our country. We must be the generation that moves forward, while drawing on lessons from our past, in order to change our future.

— Juliana Anaya, Senior at Ánimo South Los Angeles High School