After Monday night’s debate at the Hilton Hotel hosted by the League of Women Voters, some of the most slanderous and violent provoking articles ever written within the confines of St. Petersburg media outlets were released following the abrupt ending of both the District 6 and mayoral forums.
As we all know, the forum ended with utter police bombardment over me and my comrades who are supporters of Jesse Nevel and Akile Cainion for simply applauding our candidates on their performance that night.
Multiple media sources were in the room that night and got to witness the aftermath of allowing our voices to finally be heard. The article that caught my attention the quickest was the one in the Tampa Bay Times entitled “Will Chaos Close Debates?” where myself and three other young Africans can be found cheering for our candidates.
Now, I’m used to the untruthful and slandering articles the Times writes because they gave the three drowned black girls, Dominique Battle, Ashaunti Butler and La´Niyah Miller, the same slanderous treatment when the sheriff’s department pushed their car into a pond last March.
They also gave the same type of slander to the 10-year-old African boy, who along with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, named the “poster child of crime” for the entire City of St. Petersburg.
To give you a better comparison, let us analyze the criminalization of Africans nationwide from popular cases of police murdering Africans. After the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, they went as far as to look for criminal charges on his father to clear the air for officers rather than addressing the injustices faced by African communities worldwide.
Same thing goes for the murder of Sandra Bland. Before reports of Bland’s death could even surface, a slander campaign was unleashed on Sandra to fit her under the rebellious and unruly stereotype of Africans struggling for power.
That night, I was only seen as a disruptor and labeled “disorderly” due to my passion for local politics. Little did the Tampa Bay Times know that other than being a “disruptor,” I am a 16-year-old African boy who is the secretary for the National Office of Recruitment and Membership (NORM) for the African People’s Socialist Party, the program director for the N2U Volunteer Brigades, the co-host on Black Power 96.3 FM’s evening show “#NoKlass,” which is the only radio station in St. Petersburg offering the African youth the opportunity to have their voices heard, and a part of the field team for the campaigns for both Nevel and Cainion.
Oh, and I’m also a junior at Gibbs High School. None of these titles or positions mattered to the Times and these attacks completely demean and criminalize the entire African youth community of south St. Pete.
There must be a specific type of African that the Tampa Bay Times is trying to attack and dilute. Is it the type of African that disregards the status quo and fights for the social and economic injustices imposed on his/her community? In this particular instance, the specific type of African that was attacked was a revolutionary one who fights for the interests of his community.
The State and the Tampa Bay Times are fully aware of the history and revolutionary activities of African youth’s involvement in revolution. This is why they are carrying out the vicious attacks on the black youth of St. Pete.
In these same tactics and examples, the Times has carried out a slander campaign on me, on my peers, my brother, my sister and the entire African community.
The reason for this is because the African youth have taken a huge role in this year´s election. We are tired of our voices, our opinions and the conditions in which we live in constantly overlooked.
We are tired of having the same options every election of failed policies and denial of access to food, clothing and shelter. These conditions can no longer exist anymore, and the candidate that represents a position in office will abide by our demands upon arrival into office on Nov. 7 of this year.
Let the African youth speak! Oh, and at least allow us to clap for a candidate!