A Facebook post from a non-profit organization in Richmond, Virginia, has gone viral. Daquan, age 17, penned a powerful letter to protesters and the media that Richmond Cycling Corps (RCC), an organization that aids underserved communities through cycling, posted to their Facebook page.
The organization took teens from Section 8 Housing to a Confederate monument to formulate their own ideas about the statues before they heard anything from media sources. "This morning, we took five RCC youth, ages 16-17, all from section 8/public housing, to the Confederate monuments for one purpose: So they can formulate their OWN opinions before the media frenzy that's going to ravage through Richmond tomorrow," said RCC.
"It was a powerful experience, and upon returning back to RCC Headquarters, after an amalgamation of input from the other four RCC youth, Daquan typed with fervor and produced the piece below."
The poignant point the teen made in the letter challenges all notions made about the removal of Confederate statues and evokes sobering thoughts on how the nation, and particularly the media and activists groups, are failing to address critical issues facing black communities.
Here's what the letter said:
This morning, we took five RCC youth, ages 16-17, all from section 8/public housing, to the confederate monuments for one purpose: So they can formulate their OWN opinions before the media frenzy that's going to ravage through Richmond tomorrow. It was a powerful experience, and upon returning back to RCC Headquarters, after an amalgamation of input from the other four RCC youth, Daquan typed with fervor and produced the piece below. Most often, we have the distinct honor of being the voice for our youth-- an honor built on our deep relationships and trust with them. What is written below is THEIR voice, from THEIR emotion, and of THEIR reasoning. Aside from one sentence removed for ease of comprehension, it is completely unedited.
"Today me and my peers decided to visit the monuments to see what all the fuss was about and we came up with this.Is it more convenient to take down some statues than to improve the real problem of society? A Lot of people think that the problem with society is racism, but racism is only the feeling of one race being better than another. From living in low income areas we have our own ideas about society. Everybody pointing blame at monument avenue and statues that reside there, but those statues never did anything to me or people that i care about. The only thing that ever harmed people in low income areas is the violence that reside there in low income areas. In low income areas 5 kids each [the five who visited the monuments today] from a different area [different apartments] collectively knows twenty-two dead [over the past year], where the protest about that, where are the reporters, where are all the organizations that claim to be to alive to better the lives of blacks. From the day we are born we are taught nobody cares and that nobody can help. What if i told you that there were kids starving in your backyards living in rundown buildings? What if i told you that there are kids that rather rob,steal and kill rather than going in the house with nothing to eat? Everyday kids like these say to themselves “do whatever to get to them bands [money] and if they don't give it to me ima take it”, now you might think that makes them savages or ruthless but it's all we know. The schools we go to are unaccredited and broke meaning everybody young,dumb, and broke. Instead of using money to knock down statues that most people in low income areas never even seen how about using that moving to improve schools,fix up the community that we see everyday, or why not protest in our neighborhoods where we see violence and hate the most. We all was taught about pride and loyalty, but why nobody ever taught us not to die over the neighborhood that our mother renting. We live in two different worlds we on instagram holding money to our ears but you’ll don't call that money over there in your world. Everybody wants to help but nobody is really helping are they?"
-Written by Daquan (age 17), on behalf of the following RCC Youth: Cahlee (16), DaMonte (16), Tawante (17), William (16).
"This is heartwrenching. And so his point here though is, 'We don't care about these statues, these statues haven't done a thing to us. We care about the actual conditions in our neighborhoods where people are dying.' Let's focus on that," said Pat Gray.