What inspired you to start Black, Young, and Educated?
I was inspired to start B.Y.E. because I felt like I was not being heard. Also, I wanted to make a space for Black teens to share their voices, since they are often ignored.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing Pittsburgh’s youth today?
The biggest problem facing Pittsburgh youth in my opinion is salvaging our future, which includes climate justice, racial justice, and everything in between. Our past leaders have not done the best to ensure a better future for everyone, and we need that to change.
Every Saturday, BYE has been protesting during Civil Saturdays. Who are you fighting for?
We are fighting to honor Antwon Rose, Jr. We are fighting for justice for all people unjustifiably murdered by officers sworn to serve and protect.
I think Pittsburgh does have the ability to change once everyone admits there is a problem. If we continue ignoring blatant problems like how Black students are disproportionately punished in schools, which aids in the school to prison pipeline. There is a problem with ignorance, a lot of people are stuck in their own world with no regard for what is going on around them.
What do you think a youth-led movement has to offer that others might not have been able to accomplish in the past?
A youth-led movement has so much to offer because it is fresh. We have new ideas and new ways to get it accomplished. We are bold, full of energy, and outspoken. Youth are the future so it is our responsibility to shape it, which we proudly do.
Who or what do you see as your organization’s biggest obstacle?
My organization’s biggest obstacle is Bryan Cutler [R-Lancaster] and Rob Kauffman [R-Franklin], money, and politics. Our voices are being ignored by a majority of people in power due to the fact they do not want to amend section 508 to increase police accountability. I see those three things as our biggest obstacle because money has everything to do with politics. It makes my trust in politicians slim because they do not always have our best interest in account. Bryan Cutler is an obstacle because he is the speaker of the house, we need to be noticed by him if not already to try to get House bill 1664 put on the floor. Also, Rob Kauffman is the chairmen of the judiciary committee, which is where the bill will be voted on.
What is your biggest dream for Pittsburgh’s future?
My biggest dream for Pittsburgh’s future is that the people here can coexist with each other and learn more about others outside of their neighborhood. I wish for a Pittsburgh that has better air quality for majority Black communities. I hope we have a better and more diverse education system, where we are not just learning about majority white history or white-washed version of it.
What keeps you fighting?
What keeps me fighting is the fact that I will be making a better future for myself, my kids, and everyone to come. I am sick of seeing mothers, fathers, friends not get justice for the murders of unarmed teens and adults by police officers.
Are there any other activist organizations, in Pittsburgh or nationwide, you look up to for guidance?
An activist that I look up to is Giuseppe Bagheera, who is a member of my organization. They are free-spirited and fearless, which I adore about them. They always have the best ideas, and we always look out for each other during protests.
Where can we find you next?
Next, you can find me at Temple University pursuing a degree in Global studies. I have no clue what I will be doing after college, but I know that I will be continuing my activism through Black, Young, & Educated and continue to create a safe space for Black teens and young adults in Pittsburgh and hopefully many other places.
How can our readers who want to help you do so?
Readers that want to help should donate to individual organizations and to organizations fighting for change. You should also get in contact with Rob Kauffman (717-705-2004) and Bryan Cutler (717-783-6424), to advocate for the amendment of section 508, PA’s use of force law. You should also do your research, read, and try to see different perspectives. If you do no support the Black Lives Matter movement, reassess your values. If you do support, but a friend doesn’t, try to make them understand.