why I kneel…

I was asked by one of my professors, to write about the recent racial incidents that have been happening at the University of Michigan. Students had the n word written on their doors, there was a lot of racist writing in public areas, etc. The letter was to our fifth grade pen pals, and I decided I wanted to share it with you all. 


Dear Students,


Hello! My name is Mayah Wheeler and I attend the University of Michigan. Dr. Goldin, my professor, asked me to write to you all about one of the protests that happened this week here at Michigan.

Recently, there has been a lot of hate crimes, crimes that are committed because of racial, sexual or other prejudices, at Michigan. Hate crimes are normally violent, but here at Michigan, they have been non-violent. Since school started, on September 5th, there have been more than three hate crimes. That’s a lot, especially in such a short period of time. People have even written racial slurs, mean names used about people of a racial group, on people’s doors. It’s been crazy here at Michigan and honestly, it has scared me. The hate crimes this year have been directed towards Black and Latino students, whom together only make up 8% of the study body at Michigan.

The sad part is, the University of Michigan hasn’t punished the people that do these mean things to other students. You’re probably thinking- “Why not? The people writing the mean things are bullying students and bullying is wrong.” Sadly, I don’t know why they didn’t get in trouble. But because they didn’t get in trouble, some students have decided to protest. The protestors think that if they protest peacefully, maybe the President of the University will listen and punish the bullies. One of the people whom led a protest at Michigan this week is named Dana Greene Jr. Dana is a graduate student here and decided to kneel in front of the flag, to protest all the bullying that has gone on while he has attended Michigan. In his letter, which was passed out around campus, Dana talks about how he was watched people commit hate crimes against Black, Latino, Muslim, and immigrant students within the last five years. Dana says that he kneeled because he was tired of doing nothing and hoping that things would get better. I think what Dana meant was that after the hate crimes students, that are the victims of these crimes, hope that people will understand that they’re hurting other people and stop. Dana wanted to kneel until the President of the University would meet with him, but the President never came to talk to him.

I think Dana was right to protest. He protested to draw attention to all the hate crimes that have happened on the campus and was trying to make a positive difference. I hope that when you all read this letter, you understand that not all people here are bullies. But a lot of people here are being bystanders. And as I’m sure you all know, bystanders help the bullies. I challenge you all to be the ones who protest- stand up for what you think is right, treat people the way you want to be treated and be kind with your words. We all can make a difference and work towards making sure all students are treated with respect.


If you guys have any questions, write me back and I’ll make sure to answer anything you want to know!



Mayah N. Wheeler


#blacklivesmatter pt.2

Lately I’ve been a pretty big news follower. Pretty much all I do on my phone besides text is read articles, especially after the recent shootings. All of the protests are people saying enough is enough. Something has to change and this is how. There are a few things I’d like to discuss first though.

  1. Though this is a time of reflection, it is a time to be smart. Social change comes through policy reform. The best way to get policy reform is economically. People listen when you mess with their money. Be careful about who and where you’re shopping and giving your money to. Reform needs to happen and economics play a huge role. Some may say that boycotting is silly. I just view it as this could be a very big deal, or a very small deal. I’d rather participate and hope it sparks change, then give up before I even try.
  2. Though this is a time of mourning over lost lives, it is a time to celebrate. I love watching Women’s gymnastics for the Olympics. The team this year includes Gabby Douglass (who I just love) and Simone Biles. They are both extremely talented young women whose talents will open more doors for young African-American girls. Laurie Hernandez, a young Latina woman, will be joining them also. I’m happy that there is representation for young girls of color for this year’s Olympics. Representation matters.
  3. Though this is a time of togetherness, it is a time to act. Protests (non-violent) matter. There was a protest in my city today. Though I was unable to attend sadly, I’m proud of Ramoni, one of the leaders of the protest. Actions speak louder than words. Standing up for what you believe in matters. The picture below is from one of the protests in Baton Rouge. I like this picture because you can see how calm she is, like she’s so firm in her beliefs she’s calm. Plus it reiterates that this campaign is not meant to be harmful. It is just to fight for what is right.
  4. Though this is a time for contemplation, it is a time to vote. Voting for this election is more important than ever. One of the canidates is running a campaign based off of hatred and we have to join together to support what is right. No matter your view on Hillary Clinton, if she wins the nomination she’s our chance. I’ve seen many things on twitter about writing Bernie Sanders in. Though this may seem like a good idea, it is just going to split the Democratic vote, allowing other candidates to win. Remember that a campaign built on hate is built off of lies and stereotypes. Also stay away from twitter trolls.
  5. Though this is a time for revolution, it is a time for communication. Not everyone shares the same beliefs. But it is important to be clear with your beliefs. A common “come back” saying for #blacklivesmatter is #alllivesmater. No one said all lives didn’t matter. All lives do matter. That’s why it is important to emphasize that the lives of African-Americans matter because the system doesn’t recognize that they do. It is sad to say that this movement seems to be turning into something that is used to recognized lives lost. It is about the lives being important before they are gone. It is important to realize that there are things we can do to try to break the cycle. That is why we protest. That is why we boycott. Because trying is eventually going to lead to change.

Change is going to come. Just wait on it.