End the duopoly

What I Learned as a Young Black Political Speaker in Liberal White Austin

Illustration by Kathia Ramirez; Suit: JuanMonino/Getty To be Black and politically active in Austin is to work among liberal whites who are glad to be educated about racial injustice, but then want to educate you about what degree of change is possible and when. In 2015, when I was seventeen years old, I gave my first public speech about institutional racism. Under Zach Theatre’s bright stage lights, I asked questions about my Black American life. Where should I dedicate my political energy? How do we stop anti-Black violence? For the next few years, as I spoke at elite political fundraisers and events, I kept asking. For a time, I accepted the answers I got back. “We can’t be too ambitious with our political goals. We hear you, but don’t expect to see big changes.” These past few weeks have reminded me of my misplaced energy. Now, I put an old version of myself to rest.

Five years after that first speech—and a week after my graduation from the University of Texas—there would be the start of another American race protest. The dead in focus this time were George Floyd and Breonna Taylor , two more Black Americans killed by police […]

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