Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Coastal Clean-up

Name: Ayanna Larry
From: Beach, VA
Grade: 11th
School: Bayside High School
Votes: 0

Since my freshman year of high school, freedom of speech has always
been something important to me. I am a firm believer in freedom of
speech, and speaking up for what you believe in. Because of this,
there is one person I still remember from school.

While in the auditorium one day, in my junior year of high school, I
sat near this guy. During the presentation from one of our school’s
staff, I heard him say “I don’t stand for black people. I stand
for Trump.” My initial thought was to just ignore his comment.
However, being an African American female, I felt compelled to
provide my input. I asked him “What do you mean?” trying to get a
clear understanding before deciding to entertain his rude comment. He
repeated his same statement, so I said, “You know that’s
offensive right?” He made it clear that he didn’t care and that
was his intention. I told him off, in a rather composed way due to
being in an educational environment. After that, I simply moved my

I was shocked to learn that me and him had the same class, Culinary
Arts, due to us being in the same grade. After having a f*ollowing
discussion about the situation during class, however, he ended up
apologizing. I’m not one to hold onto grudges or ignorance, so I
decided to leave the situation in the past. Throughout that school
year, I just learned that not everyone has the same personality or
beliefs as me, so I shouldn’t pay it any more attention than it’s
worth. This lesson proved to be a crucial part of my life and overall
growth. When you let words influence you, you let that person have
the control. This can never lead to positivity in life. Instead, the
negativity should be eradicated.

Every now and then, I always reflect on that moment as well as other
moments. If not for free speech, there would never be any
understanding of the diverse opinions and beliefs of humans. I think
free speech sets the pathway for good communication, which in turn
allows for a better understanding and acceptance between different
people. This opportunity is not one that everyone is allowed, so it
shouldn’t be taken for granted. Although, a lot of people think
that Americans take their freedom for granted already. Especially
people who live in foreign countries.

Thanks to our Constitution, we can never go wrong when we speak up
about how and what we feel. Although, with the way that society has
become now, it has unfortunately made it more difficult. Social media
is such a big part of this generation, that people grow accustomed to
living by it. We let social media tell us what’s right and what’s
wrong, rather than thinking and deciding that for ourselves. If we
speak up, then we get labeled as coming on too strong and offensive,
but if we don’t then we get labeled as scary or pushovers. I figure
there may be a happy medium somewhere. But who knows when or who
that’ll be determined by.

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