‘Listen to People of Color': Boston Protesters in Portrait

They told us about how videos like the one showing George Floyd's death make them feel, the need for more people to understand the privilege they have and much more

Thousands of people have protested across Massachusetts to denounce structural racism and police brutality against black people in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Activists and concerned citizens at a Black Lives Matter vigil in Jamaica Plain Thursday shared their stories with NBC10 Boston.

They talked about all kinds of things, including how videos like the one showing Floyd's death make them feel, not letting the narrative of the protests be diverted by violence or the media, the need for more people to understand the privilege they have and how best to elevate the voices of people of color.

At a Jamaica Plain vigil and protest on Thursday evening, peaceful protesters told NBC10 Boston what they're fighting for.

James and Marcus Colimon of Boston, via Haiti

“He had [a] nightmare, actually. We went to one of these protests, two o’clock in the morning he came to my bed saying, 'Daddy I’m scared.' You don’t want my kids to grow up like that.”

Kiana Lopes of Dorchester, via Cape Cod

"To the people who don’t understand these protests I’d like to say, 'Recognize your privilege.' It’s not just white people who don't understand this. Whether you’re educated, whether you have wealth, see what you can do and how you can utilize that. Truly listen to stories. Don’t listen to the news because they’re spreading propaganda. They're making it seem like we’re making this violent and we are not. Keep educating yourself. Listen to people of color. They are the voices that matter during this time.” 

Leonardo Lopez, 9, and Marlena Cesar-Mendez of Boston

Marlena: “What inspires me is to fight for justice for my ancestors, for my son, for the black and brown community. Things have to change.” 

Leonardo: “It’s been very hard for me, especially as a child and especially in these COVID times. It’s very hard for all people, I believe."

Akeia Collins of Roslindale, via Roxbury

“I have a nine-year-old son and it’s very important to me that he knows that his mother stands outside of the four walls we live in to represent him as a black male. When we first started seeing the rioting and the looting and things on TV, I had to make it a point that he -- for one second -- stopped being a kid and paid attention to what’s really outside. It’s unfortunate because he’s still a child, but you still have to be aware.” 

Amalia Ali of Boston

“My mom is Dominican and my dad is Somali. I've watched the videos of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. I would say it was a very emotional experience for me to understand that that could be my dad and my brother and my family members, and understanding, like, those are actual people, human beings and people that didn't deserve to die, regardless of what media perceives of them."

Leigha Hayward of Jamaica Plain

"You've got two ears and one mouth -- you should be listening more than you're speaking right now. And I think, ideally, the best thing that you can do is listen to people of color. Don't expect them to educate you. Go out there, find resources, educate yourselves, lean into discomfort, have those very challenging conversations and admit that this is a continuum that we are all learning. It's gonna be messy but just lean into the process."

Chase Brooks of Jamaica Plain

"We're just local residents trying to figure out a good way to be out here and be supportive and try to elevate black voices while, you know, just making them front and center. So we thought handing out supplies is the best way to do that. We have some local businesses that, actually, last-minute got behind us. We raised a bunch of money to bring water and hand sanitizer and it ended up all being donated by local businesses."

Junior Nash of Cambridge

"We just want to be treated as everyone else. We want to be treated equal. We don't want to have excessive force [used] all the time [and] higher sentences than others. Have everything be equal, that's what America stands for, so practice what you preach."

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