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Illustration by Joelle Avelino


February 23, 2020: Ahmaud Arbery
March 13, 2020: Breonna Taylor
May 25, 2020: George Floyd


January 1, 2009: Oscar Grant
February 26, 2012: Trayvon Martin
August 9, 2014: Michael Brown
July 13, 2015: Sandra Bland


July 5, 2016: Alton Sterling
July 6, 2016: Philando Castile
July 2016: Black Lives Matter protests erupt around the U.S.

Tears fall down my face. I struggle to get out of bed to go to work; can I call out “black” today? I’m so stressed. I’m so exhausted. I’m always on edge, always on alert, looking over my shoulder. Am I next? Why can’t people understand? Why can’t people look at us in the eyes and see our humanity and beauty? Will it ever get better? Do I have the strength to keep pushing, to keep teaching, to keep explaining, to keep advocating? My shoulders feel heavy as if I’m carrying the entire weight of the world. …

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Image by Alona Miller, Visual Managing Editor at The Shakerite

During my first year at Boston University, I completed an introductory writing research course titled, “African American Voices,” and learned a distinction that edified my racial identity and affirmed a sentiment on which I’ve been ruminating since childhood: There is a distinct application between using the terms, “African American” and “Black American.” The term, African American, describes an ethnic group of peoples that share a common ancestry, distinguished by the forced uprooting of native Africans to American soil via the Atlantic Slave Trade from the 16th to 19th centuries. This label also describes a culture, created by said peoples, that has evolved and transcended itself over time and is now the bedrock of mainstream American culture today — music (blues, jazz, country, rock, hip hop), dance, food, politics, literature, film/television, fashion etc. …


Paul Renolis

San Francisco-based queer performing artist, creative, and writer that explores black joy.

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