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Penn State Student Reflects On A Summer Of Pandemic And Protests

Shelby Lincoln
Shelby Lincoln

During this summer of pandemic and protest, the WPSU news team is working with a small class of students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. Students in the class are talking with people in our listening area about issues important to them ahead of the upcoming presidential election through phone and Zoom interviews. And they’ve taken some time to write personal essays about how the pandemic has affected them personally. Here’s one of those audio diaries from Penn State rising senior, Shelby Lincoln. 

A sad reality of America is that racial injustice is divisive. As a young black woman, I see that. I’ve experienced many injustices in my life because of my race. My retired law enforcement parents have both experienced and witnessed it, too. 

The protests are needed. The death of George Floyd has caused shockwaves through the entire world. The black community is tired of being treated as less than. The resounding message is that enough is enough. 

The protests are important. The past few weeks there have been dozens of protests. I currently live in a residential area of Queens, New York. But, most of the protests are in Brooklyn and Manhattan, which are more urban areas. My first reaction is to go out there and join them. But my first responsibility is to my family. We are still in the middle of the pandemic. My mother had COVID-19, and I cannot risk getting her or anyone else sick. So, I watch the protests or read about them or through various social media platforms. 

Of course, you have those who counter-protest. Many of them try to intimidate the protestors by brandishing their assault rifles, imitating the death of George Floyd or inciting violence. Overall, it is wrong. The Black Lives Matter protests and protestors are peaceful. My only reaction is to pray and hope that the counter-protestors recognize the need for unity and justice in this world. 

The protests are educational. I use my social media account to share why black lives matter. I share ways to educate yourself via books, movies, TV shows and documentaries. I also share resources about having those difficult conversations with family members who may not agree with you or understand racism in this country. 

Lastly, I share my story. The only way to heal is through reconciliation. We must listen to one another, learn from one another, and forgive each other. This is how I’m fighting the battle of racism.  

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