When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a community of people to speak out against the crimes and injustices that have been done to them by other people, and to demand mutual respect and equality, it is their duty to do so. Some hold these truths to be self evident, that we are and ought to be equal, no matter gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnic background, etc., and that this is one of our many unalienable rights. And to secure such rights, we, as a people, must use the power in our freedom of speech to uplift ourselves from the wrong doings of society based upon their biased actions and words. Too many lives are lost and spirits broken by the harsh actions and ways of people with certain prejudices. We as a people are stuck in this cycle of an ancient battle for the upper hand, for privilege, and upliftment of our own community even if it means the pitfall of another. While victims, we are still very much so to blame for this ongoing fight for power and glory. We, unknowingly, contribute to the fueling of this hate fire in our admittance to silence. And, so, I declare my independence from this silence. The silence that has kept too many in oppression. The silence that is heard in classrooms and business places when others are harassed. I, as an individual, dissolve the bonds and ties that I have to this perpetual ignorance and vow to use my newly declared independence to encourage others to do so as well.
— Jazmarie Vega, Student, Constitution High School, Philadelphia, PA