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MoPOP Youth Voices Respond to Killing of George Floyd

Cameron Lavi-Jones of Gypsy Temple at Sound Off!

Amplifying young voices is something that is at the heart of the Museum of Pop Culture's mission. During this time of protest, collective action, and calls for change to systems of oppression against black and brown people, we thought it was important to check in with MoPOP youth and provide them with a platform to share what’s on their minds. Some are using the art they make to express their feelings, others are observing the events with a mix of confusion and anger, and others are taking part in social action. This movement has largely been led by young people, so it seems right to listen to what they have to say and learn from them.

Ricardo Gurango, Write Out of this World Participant

"I've been pretty sad lately. I've been seeing a lot of what's been going on and want to do something about it. I am angry. I'm mad and I'm sad that African American children can't grow up thinking they can depend on their own police. I'm sad that African American people can't even go outside knowing they are safe. It's sad and disheartening. So I wrote a poem about it. It's actually more of a spoken word/rap, and I plan to record myself rapping it with music later. I call it All That They See."

All That They See 

There’s been injustice in our nation. 
Instead of liberty, we find discrimination. 
What is the point of the land of the free, 
When the tone of your skin is all that they see? 

When someone says that they cannot breathe, 
Would you just let them die underneath? 
In a country that’s supposed to be just and not rough. 
Murder is murder, and enough is enough. 

Somebody has to stand for what’s right. 
Somebody has to stand up to the fight. 
We’re stuck in a war that no one can win. 
And the core of the war is the color of skin! 

Why, for equality, do you need a war? 
Since when does your skin color define who you are? 
What’s the point of the beliefs of our nation, 
When it’s corrupted by racism and segregation? 

I am American. I am complicit in 
Watching our country judge innocent citizens 
Why does skin color incite separation? 
And why do we let it ruin our nation? 

All these people want is a government that sees ‘em. 
All these people want is a leader that can lead ‘em. 
They want police they can depend on when they need ‘em. 
All these people want is equality and freedom. 

There’s been injustice in our nation. 
Instead of liberty, we find discrimination. 
What is the point of the land of the free, 
When the tone of your skin is all that they see? 

Crissy P, Sound Off! Participant

"What you’ve seen these past few days and witnessed going on in every part of the world, is the unraveling of a society that was not created equal. What you are hearing in the streets, and reading from the comfort of your phone, are the cries of a people whose echoes were ignored for 400+ years. Racism never died out, it integrated itself in places, people of power never expected minorities to ever rise to. With the brutal murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless black lives, people have begun to say—enough is enough. A slap on the wrist, suspension with pay, community service, or termination is not justice served, but justice hindered for the benefit of a white society. In the words of Stokely Carmichael, 'In order for non-violence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.' Sometimes it is necessary to use the same language/methods your oppressors use for them to get the message. This is apparent in the protests, and the riots across America—I ask myself 'why are people more frustrated with the damage of property than they are with the loss and murders of black lives by police?' The answer is simple, America has yet to atone for its sins committed since the birth of this nation, the displacement and genocide of indigenous people, the slavery of black and brown people, the discrimination of people who flee their country for a chance at a better life. But today millions of Americans say, that time is now. Being a tan skinned Honduran man I acknowledge that the hip-hop culture I partake in daily with the music I create is a culture I was not born into, but allowed to join because of the sacrifices black people made to transform this artform into the biggest genre on the planet. The creation of art, music, and writing are all languages of the soul—I find it not only my want, but my very need to speak on issues of injustice however I can. Whether that be through impactful lyrics, soundbites of activists who laid down the foundation, or just plain directing that energy into the creation of something new. Creativity has no limits, but when you bound yourself to limiting the topics you speak about in fear of its reception, you stand on the side of the oppressor. I urge my fellow creators across the globe to take a stand against this injustice, not just by making a couple posts today but by creating timeless music our future generations can hold onto, learn from, and pass onto the generation that follows. In the words of a protestor I met a couple days ago before the riot on 5th and Pine, 'I DO THIS FOR CHILDREN, AND MY CHILDREN'S CHILDREN!'"

"Sands of Time is an ode to my ancestral heritage in Honduras who fought off the Spanish, both my indigenous warrior heritage as well as my African heritage who came to the north coast of Honduras as slaves. Finally, Grateful, Always captures my parents' perspective as people who had to flee their homeland and my perspective growing up in America at times not recognizing that sacrifice."

Avalon Felice Lee, Write Out of this World Participant

"Art is a call to action. A way to help generate donations without spending a single cent is to watch YouTube vids dedicated to art (spoken poetry, digital art, music, etc.) by black artists that say in the descriptions 100 percent of the ad revenue will be donated to #BlackLivesMatter, such as Zoe Amira's video project."

Cameron Lavi-Jones, Sound Off! Participant

"I’m exhausted from having to defend my right to exist and convincing people that my life matters. I’m exhausted from the anxiety from knowing the prison and police industrial complexes are looking for every opportunity to swallow me whole. I’m exhausted from seeing black and brown bodies- my body- slaughtered in dedication to new slave masters. I’m exhausted from the barrage of reminders that I could be murdered at any moment just like Ahmaud, just like Breonna, just like Tony, just like George. I’m exhausted from non-black complacency. I’m exhausted from seeing non-intersectional activism. I’m exhausted from seeing messages of justice co-opted to justify the oppression of the marginalized. 

"Forgive your black siblings right now if they are exhausted too. We were born into a country that profits off of our lives and our deaths and that burden is heavier than you can understand. But where we need you is in the streets. We need you in donations. We need you holding yourself and your loved ones accountable. We need you to educate those who don’t have the access to educate themselves. We need you where it is dangerous for us to go. We need you to support us, tell us we matter, and that you won’t stop fighting for justice and equity until black and brown bodies aren’t second class citizens. We can’t go back to normal after this. We can’t afford to. We can’t afford to sink back into the convenience of normalization and de-stigmatization. We can’t afford to erase the memory of everyone we’ve lost. 

"We can’t afford to stay disorganized either. Regardless of your resources and ability, there is a surplus of ways to fight. Check-in on the mental health of black and brown folx. Share resources on how non-black people can improve themselves and where they can use their privileges for the advancement of the marginalized. Talk protest strategies and build teams and protocol when things get messy in the streets. Be unapologetic in fighting for a better world. This isn’t solved with cushy “peace and love” and we’ve been out of patience since forever. This is solved with shared resources, education, compassion, solidarity, resilience, and sacrificing unearned privileges. 

"So please keep fighting. The road is long ahead of us but we only move forward as a unit. Fight for me. Fight for us. Fight for black and brown voices. Fight for intersectionality. Fight for Ahmuad. Fight for Breonna. Fight for Tony. Fight for George. Fight to know justice."

Learn more about Cameron at

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About the author

The Museum of Pop Culture’s mission is to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities.