Winter 2018: “Less Stuff, More Heart” Powerful Voice Winner Rhys Hardiman-Mostow

Read Rhys's essay, "A Break From Racism," about standing up to racism as a young Black woman with big dreams.

Rhys Hardiman-Mostow, an eighth-grade student of Eva McGough at Lake Washington Girls Middle School in Seattle, Washington, read and responded to the online YES! Magazine article, “Less Stuff, More Heart: 5 Gifts On a New Dad’s Christmas List,” by Christopher Zumski Finke. 

Writing Prompt: Imagine you’re about to celebrate a special holiday, milestone, or birthday.  If you could ask for any non-material gift, what would you ask for? What would make this gift so special to you?

A Break From Racism

If I could ask for a special gift, I would ask for racism to end so that I can identify as myself. I would not fear police, and I could have a break.  I’m a thirteen-year-old Black girl with big dreams.

Racism has the Black minority oppressed. Black and beautiful is how I identify, and the racism against me, all Black women and men, is unacceptable. I’m defined by my stereotype, and I can’t get a well-paying job! My people cross the street in order not to scare anyone. White women clutch their bags when a Black male walks by because they’re scared they’re going to get mugged.

I don’t want people to be afraid of me, I want them to like me. When I’m in a dangerous situation, I don’t want to hesitate to call 911. I don’t want to grow up in fear of police because there should be nothing to be afraid of. I want to dial the number and say my problem. I don’t want police to solve problems by ending a life or beating someone half to death in response to fear. I should not fear that police will kill me. We kneel during the national anthem to expose police brutality and racism in the United States of America. I should not have to kneel for my rights.

Christopher Zumski Finke has asked for five non-material gifts and a break from the world. I would also like to ask for a break. Christopher says, “I care about culture and politics and environmental activism—a lot.” He needs a break from activism and I need a break from the racism our “United” States have put Black people through. Black people have not forgotten what happened to us when cotton became an industry. We need a break from the names: Negro, Monkey, Blackie, Camel Lips. Black people need a break from the racism, a break from the biases, and a break from losing someone to a police shooting.

If racism was abolished I would be treated fairly. The world would be led by strong Black women. We would forgive what White people did to Blacks and not treat them the way they treated us because nobody should be treated that way. I would be greeted with smiles instead of stares. We would hug a brother instead of shoot one, and stay strong in the face of racism.

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