Michaela’s final straw

Sophomore inspired to join Black Lives Matter movement.

Confused thoughts swarming in her mind, iPhone screen bright through welling tears, sophomore Michaela Austin first learned of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020. She went to her parents, attempting to piece together how someone could be killed on camera and no one was doing anything about it.

“I felt like I was screaming under water,” Austin said. “It was difficult to see someone who looked like me killed on camera.”

This was Michaela’s final straw.

Swim team member and Black Lives Matter activist Michaela Austin recounts attending protests, signing petitions, tough conversations and following the news consistently in the historical summer of 2020. Michaela informs the community on measures to honor 2021’s Black History Month this February.

“It is really important to educate yourself on Black history and remember that all those people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were really not as long ago as they seem,” Austin said.

Fifty six percent of the Bridgeland community is White, putting the percentage of African American students at 10.5 percent. Michaela enlightens on experiences she has had being African American in a predominately White setting.

“Well in elementary I didn’t really notice or know to think about things like that, but once I got to middle school I remember people saying the n-word in sixth grade either around me or to me. Also, I had a crush on a boy and he told me he would never date a Black girl, and I remember just crying and thinking, ‘what is wrong with me?’” Austin said.

To aid the movement of BLM (Black Lives Matter), there are several organizations that can lead to valid donation sights, petitions and things such as calendars informing of upcoming BLM events. Taking it upon yourself to do thorough research is the first step in coming to understand the initiative of the BLM movement.

“I really started to get into the movement around seventh grade but didn’t really follow the news as much as I started to during the summer of 2020. George Floyd’s death is when I became more actively involved in the movement,” Austin said.

In Black Americans, studies reported a prevalence rate of PTSD at 9.1 percent compared to 6.8% in White Americans. This can be correlated with the 63% of African Americans that fear police using violent force on a family member or themselves.

“I was so upset because it really was such a buildup, it was not the first time; there were so many before that. Even when I was younger I remember hearing about everything with Trayvon Martin,” Austin said.

Following George Floyd’s death, the young adults of America felt the need to take action. Glynda C. Carr, president of Higher Heights, reported an influx of donations around ten times more than normal- 15,000 dollars in two weeks. These increases in numbers of donations and signatures is evidence of America’s growing interest and devotion to the matter of BLM. This influx of interest in the injustice of African Americans was similar as to when Michaela began to become interested in Black Lives Matter when she was 13 years old.

“Whenever I feel passionate about something I can’t just push it to the back of my mind or something,” Austin said. “I will not stop thinking about it- it really matters to me.”