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Critical Race Theory: A teenager shares her views about growing up biracial in Ohio

Zalah Scarberry
Basim Blunt

Zalah Scarberry: Hi, my name is Zalah. I'm 14-year-old and I live in Dayton, Ohio, with my mother, Mary. I love to be challenged. One time in a basketball game I had to do a long shot with 3 seconds left. I almost didn't make it, but I put everything into that jump and made it. Where I grew up — and Gallipolis, Ohio — there are Trump flags and Confederate flags everywhere, which is so crazy and sickening to me at the same time.

So this week for my story, I'm speaking my truth about how white individuals get more respect, right, and ability than black and brown folk. They can get better housing, better food, because in markets in rich neighborhoods have better fruits, better vegetables. Then the projects why people get away with a lot more than any other race.

And it's so crazy.

My mother got arrested when I was younger and got sentenced for seven years. And she is Black. And my father, who was white, only got five. When I visited my mother in prison. I always wondered how she handled communicating when things got tough and how she was treated there.

Zalah: What's one negative thing you realize about society?

Mary (Mother): Well, when I was at Ohio Reformatory for Women, I knew that the justice system was specifically designed to oppress people of color, marginalized people, poor people. I was very much reminded of that.

Zalah: Okay. What's one positive thing you recognized about society once you got released?

Mary: I recognize that I have the ability to do and be free and do whatever I want, all in good faith and all for the goodness of humanity.

Zalah: That's amazing. I'm so proud of you and I'm so happy how much you grow. But this is only the beginning.

Mary: Thank you.

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Zalah: I remember the first time I went shopping with my mom since she got out, and it felt so great. I felt so happy and loved every moment of it. I look up to my mom a lot. She teaches me in many ways how to be strong, independent, organized, and how to give respect, to get respect.

Ever since I was younger, I have been determined to know about my African American culture. I would always hear the saying, "America is the home of the free." But once I got older, I realized that freedom isn't free. Angela Davis said, quote, "I am no longer accepting things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept."

When I was 12-years-old, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor got murdered. People all over the world demanded justice and change. But unfortunately, that wasn't easy. Black people in America had the fight for justice, which ended up with riots and tearing down communities. Even white individuals. Yes, white people were seeing the difference of equality and how we were disrespected and helped demand for a change with us.

We sit in a house to riot and protests for us just to get a little bit of justice and peace. Is it going to change or is it going to stay like this forever no matter what race? You're perfect the way you are. You're strong. Treat people how you will want to be treated and let them live their life.