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‘I’m Paranoid To Drive Every Day': Young Black Activists Speak Out In Manchester

Christina Phillips/NHPR
Manchester community members gather outside the YWCA steps to listen to Black youth voices.

Black activists, allies, and Manchester community members gathered Thursday night outside the YWCA to listen to youth voices speak about their experiences with racism in New Hampshire. 

Credit Christina Phillips/NHPR
Kimiya Parker-Hill speaking at youth listening session in Manchester.

Graduating Manchester High School West senior Kimiya Parker-Hill said she came to this event to better serve the students she works with at her summer job.

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“I’m going to be a 7th grade teacher this summer at Breakthrough, and so I want the students, my advisees, to understand that their color is something that’s important,” she said.

“Because in Manchester school districts I feel like it’s been really colorblind, and we haven’t really addressed the issue of race. And it’s always just pushed to the side”

The event was organized by the YWCA in collaboration with Black Lives Matter Manchester.

BLM organizer Erika Perez spoke about racism in school curriculums at the event.

“We learn all these great things that white men did but it’s like, where are the Black people? Where are the Hispanic people? Where are the Asian people who also invented things, who also did amazing things that should be recognized in the curriculum?” she said.

“So when you’re older you have to seek out that information by yourself, and if you don’t want to seek out that information then you’re going to believe that this group of people or these groups of people didn’t accomplish anything worth learning about.”

Another organizer, Elijah Kendrick, talked about his fear of the police.

Credit Christina Phillips/NHPR
Black Lives Matter Manchester organizer, Erika Perez, speaks at youth listening session.

“I’m paranoid to drive every day,” he said. “So for the white people in the crowd: How many of you guys drive with like your wallet or your phone in your pockets? You all do that right? I don’t drive with anything in my pockets."

"I’ll either put it on the dashboard - my wallet, my phone, anything like that. I have nothing in my pockets just so if I get pulled over it seems like I’m reaching for something,” he said.

Other speakers talked about social media, mental health, and white ally-ship.

Black Lives Matter events are continuing across the state in the coming weeks, with a Day of Action planned for Concord later in June.

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