Houston Campus Finalist
Social injustice that impacted me also impacted my mother and the African American Community in Violet, La. When I was about 23 years old my mother and I opened a business in St. Bernard Parish. The business was a small shop on St. Bernard Highway. Where we sold a variety of hand made products made by me and my mom. The products consist of baskets, wedding bouquets, guarders, headbands, lace socks, headpieces, picture frames and albums decorated, and more. The shop was only open for two months before we started having problems. We began receiving emails and phone calls about having to close the shop because that type of business was not supposed to be in that location. It was hard to understand why this was happening, so we demanded an explanation about what kind of violations or laws we were braking. Why did it have to be closed?
We never received an explanation and were told if we did not remove our belonging off the premises. They said to leave by the date, or the police of St. Bernard Parish would have to get involved. My mother and I could not afford a lawyer, so we left the location. We then started selling products from home. This is how we first started the business.
Two weeks later we noticed there was an opening in that location. Then we found out what type of business and my mother became terribly upset. The business was exactly like the one we had with a few different products. The one we were told could not be there. So, we started investigating. In the middle of finding out who opened the shop, we found a very hurtful discovery. My little brother received a call from one of his teammates who said his uncle was overheard saying they closed our shop because “No N-word was going to make any money out of Mr. Nunez’s building”. In addition, the only reason my mom was able to open the shop is that they thought she was white.
My mother is mixed with no African American background. So, she is very lite skinned. The owner thought I was just an employee but found out from my white Godparents that I was her child and she was married to a black man. This caused a disturbance in St. Bernard Parish and I wanted my mom to get a lawyer and fight for her rights. However, she said she did not want to waste money she did not have. After that, we left everything alone and continued our home-based business. Some of the people wanted something done which lead them to boycott several businesses in the strip where our shop use to be.
Eventually, the shop that took our place closed and moved to another location. In St. Bernard Parish there are still a lot of racial problems and not enough being done about it. Today my mother and I work hard to make sure we never go through that again. Now my mom owns a Thrift Store and sells jewelry in Monroe, La.
I have been committed most of my life, to bring a change to support racial equality and more. I believe we must start with our youth. Most of the adults are less likely to change because of what they have been taught. With our youth we can teach them from the beginning that we are all the same, words cannot stop them or hurt them. We can make sure that they know it is okay to love everyone, and that hurting someone is totally wrong. I would love to go to the schools and teach them that racism does not have to exist, hate does not have to be, they can be whatever they want and that God made us all to love. In addition, we can teach young adults on facts, how to handle certain situations, how to protest peacefully with knowledge, and still have a strong voice. They need to learn how to use their anger as a strength to empower them into getting as much education, understanding, and goals accomplished through life.
This generation needs to be taught that there are many positive ways they can be heard, helped, and defend themselves against this world’s hatred without violence. With my non-profit, I would love to help those in need. They will be programs for those who are falsely accused, hurt, killed, done wrong even on jobs, and more with free legal services. Many people deal with social injustice and cannot afford to fight for their rights or beliefs. Now for those who are scared to act on these wrongdoings, I will provide anonymous phone lines and drop boxes. I will be the voice of all those who cannot speak, will not speak, afraid to speak or who cannot afford to speak. There will be private investigators there to get information and proof to take anyone who does anyone wrongfully to a court or even jail no matter what color their skin is. At Love that Helps Non-profit color or status does not mean anything. Racial and discriminated against case will be one of our major impacts on helping and making our communities better. Everyone will be educated as much as possible in their department, so no one is offended or feels disrespected in any way. Another thing I will make sure to have is different little groups that will be sent to schools, jobs, events, and in the community to educate and help. With all these different programs, lawyers, and more I believe some kind of change will happen whether it is big or small. I promise I will not quit until I see some change because many will be watching and may even join the fight. My help, strength, determination, comes from experience, not empathy even with struggling and being homeless. I and my organization will always be for the people.