Congratulations Aliyah McCullough! First Place Winner - Black History Month Essay Contest - Washington Health System

Racism is something we see all the time. A black person goes into a store; they are
automatically watched. A black person gets pulled over; they automatically have a weapon. A
black person is suffering from a mental health episode; they are automatically a danger to
society. These are not even the beginning of the problems a person of color encounters, but they
can be the last. We can stop racism, and the matter of fact is not how we do it; it is where we
start to do it. We begin by showing respect and not just in February because you think it is a
trend. Do it because you have a voice. Respect is knowing these names and what got them killed.
Breonna Taylor, 26, was asleep in her own home. Daunte Wright, 20, driving with his girlfriend.
Stephon Clark, 22, standing in his grandmother's backyard holding his phone. Ahmaud Arbery,
25, was jogging. Elijah Mcclain, 23, was walking. Tamir Rice, 12, playing with friends. Aiyana
Jones, 7, was sleeping. These are only a couple of black Americans killed by people who did not
respect them as humans.

You cannot respect Black History until you know most of their names because of the
people who took their lives. They are now a part of it. No matter what the punishment is for the
people who have taken away beautiful souls, it will never be justice for the ultimate death
sentence that they gave. Why is it that when people start to die, that is when people start to show
some kind of respect. I have learned over the years that if we want justice, we have to use the
voice we were given and be the change we are seeking. Things will never just be handed to you.
There will always be obstacles; it will just be a matter of if you have the willpower to get
through them. When we protest we are letting people know that we should not be afraid of a
society that is supposed to protect us. We should not be afraid, period.

When people complain about how there should not be a separate month for black people,
I do not think they realize they are a part of why we have it. Black History Month is here to
educate the uneducated, but the thing is, Black history is not a separate history. It is America’s
history. We have to take what we are taught and learn that we do not want to repeat it. We are
trying to learn from it. Black History Month not only encourages the differences between people,
but it makes us realize that we should be celebrating these differences. We should be showing
people that being different is not a bad thing, yet it is something that makes every one of us
unique. When we celebrate, it is more than recognizing what they have achieved. We are giving
these men and women the credit they deserve. The stories they have shared should make us
realize how if it were not for these same people; who have put their lives at risk to carry out what
they knew was right, our lives would not be what they are today. We have the opportunity to
show people that our differences are what bring us together. It will help you realize that just
because we look different on the outside does not mean we are different on the inside. 

There is a point in time where silence kills. You might be tired of hearing about the
racism that goes on in this world, but we are tired of living it. If you are tired of hearing about it,
do something about it. Rather than trying to start a race war, try to help end one. We protest so
we are heard. We want it to be known that that we want to be treated like everyone else. The
Black Lives Matter movement is simply stating that there is a more susceptibility for African
Americans that needs to be handled. We are not indicating that any other lives don’t matter. We
are just distinguishing that other individuals are not partaking in this specific exposure. We are
asking you to say their names until you can’t anymore. Like Rosa Parks said “I had no idea that
history was being made. I was just tired of giving up.”


Written By: Aliyah McCullough

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