Tiana: My dad is from Richmond, which is a rougher part of the Bay Area. And he worked his butt off — he worked five jobs at one point — to make sure that we could live in a house in a nice area. I think he kind of sheltered me, or tried to shelter me, from the hardships of being a Black American.
And come to find out, my dad was part of the movement against police brutality after Rodney King. My grandfather was part of the Black Panther movement. I have so much Black history in my life.
You never knew about this before?
Tiana: Not until two weeks ago! At the protest, I spoke about how I’ve lived in my city for over 15 years and police still racially profile my family. When my dad is driving, they pull him over and run his plates and ask him where he’s going. He says, “Home, like the rest of you.” We all live in this community, and it’s sad to see my Black brothers and sisters discriminated against. We have the right to live here just like you do, but we have to work two times harder to get here.
When I finished speaking, my dad was crying. He said, “You remind me of myself.” I was like, “Why?” And he goes, “Because I was an activist at your age.” I said, “What? Why didn’t you tell me?” I was so mad at him! He said, “Yeah, your great-grandfather was too.” So now I know, it’s in my blood.
Brianna, you grew up in St. Louis, where you said that your parents put books about Black liberation in your hands as soon as you could read. Do you think that led to your activism as an adult?
Brianna, 19: My parents pushed me to become educated about Black history in part because they worked really hard to put me in private schools. And they knew that going to a predominantly white institution would not teach me about my history.
When I have gone to marches in the past, my dad has always been there with me. But I’ve never really been what I consider to be “on the front lines.” Most of what I do is online. So when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to actually go anywhere to protests, due to Covid and safety concerns, I just kind of sat down and typed out how I was feeling.