forgiveness • peacemaking • reconciliation
equality • poverty • missions


What I Am Saying

A Letter From One of My Students

June 5, 2020 by

My name is Ruben Ayala. I live at Harlem House, a Bruderhof community in New York City, and teach tenth grade global history at Promise Academy II, a Harlem Children’s Zone public charter school.

In response to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and unrest, I asked my students to write down their thoughts. Amaina, a New York City native and one of my students who is always engaged in class (even virtually now), and concerned about the well-being of others, wrote something that I firmly believe the whole nation needs to hear. As a black man, I am so proud of my students’ thoughtful and sincere responses to our nation’s current strife. Amaina’s piece shows passion, intelligence, and the pain that many of us feel right now. Please read this and if you want to respond to Amaina’s words, reach out to me and I’ll pass your message along.

No, I am not saying that your lives don’t matter. No, I am not saying that our race is the only race going through some pain and turmoil. No, I am not saying that your pain and your hurt is not validated.

I am saying that I am tired of seeing my people die left and right, being another victim of police brutality, being a victim of murder, manslaughter, hatred, and ignorance. I am so tired of cops being able to walk freely after they just took away a husband, mother, son, daughter, uncle, sister, brother, and the list goes on. I am tired. I am so freaking tired of this injustice that some people perpetually turn their eyes away from.


No, I am not saying that we are the only people being targeted at or hated. I am saying that we are repeatedly being targeted because of the simple fact that we are … black. I am saying that because we are black, our lives are already at stake. I am saying that because being black wearing a hoodie causes suspension, reaching for your wallet is the reason as to why a bullet penetrates you, and jogging indicates that you are running away from a crime. Every little thing we do is seen as a threat.

I am tired of not being heard. I am tired of constantly being peaceful and still being treated like crap. I am tired of having protests and it resulting in more killings and violence. I am tired of the same things happening over and over again with different people with the same problem recurring. I am tired, pouring my heart out and getting pity back in return. I am tired of people saying they feel bad for us black people and doing nothing to help. I am tired that there have been no changes yet. I am tired of repeating the same things over and over again to the world.

Don’t you see how much pain and anger these killings have caused? Don’t you see how this impacts the kids who witness this? Don’t you see at all? Of course not, because you don’t care.

So let me ask you a question: how can change occur if people are not willing to help out and stop this problem? How can change occur if you constantly refuse to defuse the problem, but rather just sit and move on with your life? How can we ever expect change if people with ignorance and hatred are not willing to change?

I am tired of these questions being unanswered and brushed off. I am tired … I just want this to stop. Don’t you too?


About the author

Ruben Ayala

Ruben Ayala

Ruben Ayala lives at Harlem House, a Bruderhof community in New York City. He teaches tenth grade global history at Promise...

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