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Indianapolis conversations about race

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jul 07, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS – There's a lot going on in the world right now. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the outcry for racial justice going on across the country.

Teenagers Damion Smith and Kentavion Lowe don't have the same story. Their lives are made up of different experiences, but they do share one understanding.

“I don't think you can ever forget you are black because you get reminders,” Aaron Green, with Voices, said. “You go in a store and someone follows you.”

According to them, it's become natural to keep your head on the swivel and stay aware at all time. They say it’s not enough just to do the right thing. They must be extra careful.

It's a weight Nigel Long also carries around with him.

"It can freeze you,” Long said. “Am I going to be next? Am I going to be the next name that’s called? Am I going to be the next hashtag? … To constantly be aware of your surroundings, being aware, ‘Is this somewhere I am going to get pulled over?’”

They describe it as a constant state of anxiety and hyper awareness. And for these black men it’s never too early to learn the rules of just existing. They say from a very young age they are taught how to behave just to stay alive or avoid trouble.

“When cops seeing me I keep walking I don't look at them,” Lowe said. “They don't look at me. I keep my distance.”

Even though these teenagers are just tapping into maturity, they realize how they may be perceived by some.

They say maybe one day, it won't be their load to carry. But right now, they are leaning on each other to carry it through this pandemic.