This Little Girl's Tearful Speech Is the Antidote to Apathy That America Needs RN

zianna oliphantThere's been no end of stories about police shootings in recent months; in fact, we've heard so many that we're in danger of becoming numb to this kind of horrible news. But one brave little girl's powerful speech at a Charlotte, North Carolina, city council meeting this week is a reminder that these tragedies continue to have devastating consequences, no matter how common they are -- consequences we can't ignore. Nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant broke down in tears while speaking to her community about her fears and frustrations, and if you're in possession of a beating heart, chances are her words will have you in tears, too.


Zianna's brother Marquis also spoke at the meeting, where protesters chanted "Black Lives Matter" and some called for the resignation of Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts and police chief Kerr Putney following last week's fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, an African-American man who might not have been armed. But more compelling by far than the chants or demands for change was Zianna's emotional testimony, which serves as undeniable proof that our children are deeply affected by the ongoing violence:

"I've been born and raised in Charlotte and I've never felt this way until now," Zianna said. "And I can't stand how we're treated. It's a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can't even see them anymore."

"It's a shame that we have to go to the graveyard and bury them. And we have tears. And we shouldn't have tears. We need our mothers and fathers to be by our side."

"We shouldn't have to protest because y'all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and have rights."

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Zianna's words are devastating enough, but to hear her voice and see her face ... it's nearly unbearable:


It's a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can't even see them anymore.

More than anything else, as a mother, I feel that that's the part that really gets me. The aftermath of sudden violence is that simple, and that terrible: Parents taken away from children forever. Children taken away from parents forever. There is no going back. When one life ends in this manner, countless other lives are drastically altered for years to come. And none of us can afford to develop even the slightest level of apathy about this crisis in communities across America. None of us can afford to look away. 

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Zianna is right: She shouldn't have to protest. Nobody should. But the unfortunate truth is, these protests need to keep happening. We need to stand up for our rights, and the rights of all our children. Because they deserve better.


Image via CNN/Twitter

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