Just to give everyone some clarity, this is a photo of an Akira float during the 2013 Pride parade downtown Chicago. This past summer, I got my very first job at Akira Chicago, a top selling retail store in Chicago’s Hyde Park area. Working here taught me so much about myself, hard work, teamwork, professionalism, etc. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job because not only did I adore what I was doing everyday, but I adored and admired the people around me, I loved making clients feel good about themselves, and the thriving creativity and level of achievement made me feel invincible. Akira is far more diverse, free flowing, yet excessively disciplined and dependent than any other retail store out there. I had to put in a lot of work to thrive in such an intense, cut throat field. The environment was like no other. Playing sports didn’t even give me a rush like working a busy Saturday at Akira did. The friendly competition sparked a flame under us to work harder and sell more to meet our company’s standards. But, the constant knowledge that there was always someone there that I could fall back on was a relief. We were expected to dress, behave, and perform at the highest level because we are in fact the top selling store of all 23 Akira locations. I loved every bit of working there despite the long hours and clash of personalities. That store taught me discipline, dedication, and so much more.
Several emotions come over me when I look at this photo, or any photo regarding the Mike Brown case. After an officer shot and killed an unarmed teenage boy, Mike Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, my fellow black community took a stand against unlawful police brutality. I personally followed the story, as well as the case. I had no idea that it would strike me as much as it did. I found myself passionately furious, saddened, and disappointed by the situation. Many nights, I cried in disbelief over what had happened. To see people just like me having to repeatedly fight this battle for justice is an abomination. My thoughts ran wild as I imagined my boyfriend, my family, or even myself in such a terrible situation. I wanted so badly to be apart of protest, to defend Mike Brown’s name to every person that didn’t understand the principle behind the entire thing, but I refrained from allowing my anger to influence my behavior. The announcement that the officer would not be indicted for murdering Brown caused my outrage to grow stronger, and my heart hurt for his family. It was like a slap in the face to African Americans, like the government was basically saying “It’s okay for the police to murder black people without proper reasoning.” It made me feel like I am not living a country who’s priority is to protect the welfare of ALL of its citizens; it makes me feel like we don’t matter. This should not be a constant battle for justice, but rather a consistent, undeniable, fair flow of justice for all.