Guest Column: Generations of hurt


Devon Jefferson emphasizes that you are either “with us or against us” in this fight for freedom. 

Devon Jefferson

Truth be told, my number one goal as a teen was to make it out of the Midwest. 

I thought that maybe I could escape the racism, ageism and discrimination I felt my whole life if only I lived somewhere bigger — with more people like me. I couldn’t always go to events or stay out late or go hours without contact with my parents because they were always afraid something may happen to me — because a 6 foot tall Black kid almost always “fits the description.”

For the longest time, I feared for my life in a way that compelled me to believe the only way out was to leave. This fear, the combination of shared/learned trauma passed down from generations and my own personal psychological angst is something I’ve lived with since I can remember. 

I’ve internalized this fear, oftentimes going through an internal turmoil because I feel I’m losing my sanity fighting this invisible beast. It sometimes feels like I’m ‘soft’ or ‘playing the victim’ when even fathoming the broad and insidiously entangled matrices of systemic racism we face daily, from birth. 

This fear has crippled me my entire life. It has consumed me in ways that has compelled me to not enter rooms, to not go places I enjoy, to feel as though there are spaces I inherently don’t belong, to feel inferior. 

This fear I’m describing is a sliver of what it’s like to live and grow as a minority in this country. To see evil existing and persecuting your own kind in broad daylight with little to no opportunity to rectify is an experience we have become all too familiar with. To be labeled ‘thugs’ and ‘criminals’ for their ‘Boston Tea Party’ reminiscent social unrest is the minority experience. To become so emotionally distressed and voiceless that the only way to be heard is to become militant and reactive, is the minority experience.

Waking up in the morning and seeing yet another video on the internet of a Black man that looks like you being killed by an authority figure is sadly the fucking norm in the minority experience. 

You see, I made it out of the Midwest, but my fears followed me.

As I sit here in my apartment outside of downtown Los Angeles in Koreatown, my tears stream down my face and my body trembles in pain. But I cry not because I thought I could escape what is inescapable, not because riots are destroying this beautiful city I have fallen in love with and has taught me so much. 

I weep because I see no end to it all.

I have zero faith anymore. I feel as defeated as I ever have. I feel hopeless. This is the experience of a minority in America.

I don’t know what’s next, and I don’t know how we will deal. But if there is one thing that I do know: If every shred of my being has to burn to the fucking concrete for change to happen, then burn baby burn. 

I’m down on my knee, but to fight when your back is against the wall is the minority experience. To elevate with a foot on your neck is the minority experience. To thrive in the face of adversity is the minority experience.

Either you are with us wholeheartedly or you are against us; no more fair —weather advocacy.

I can give a fuck about an economy or a merchandise. I pay taxes, too. I have a dream I’m building from the ground up too and am a productive member of society committed to pushing us forward. But that doesn’t mean shit when the value of the human race is the cost for capitalism. 

I believe there are more constructive ways to protest, but riddle me this: When a building is old and obsolete, do construction workers sternly ask the building to change itself? No! They demolish the structure so that they can rebuild. 


If you have such a problem with the riots and protests, come see me then and let’s figure out a way to get you actively involved in some of these constructive forms of protesting you speak of. Because it’s one thing to chastise people for doing wrong; it’s a whole other thing to command oneself to do something right.

Devon Jefferson is an Iowa State University graduate and product writer at H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles.