Updated: Dec 6, 2020
As teens, we hear our parents, peers, and the media voice their opinions all day, every day. Rarely do we ever get asked about what we think; here at the Student Independent, we strive to change that.
I interviewed four high school students about three relevant political topics. I made sure to be diverse; I chose people of different backgrounds, races, and genders to grasp various opinions. Over a zoom meeting, I told them that they are allowed to say as little or as much as they would like about what I ask them, making sure that they understood the premise of the interview, we began.
The first topic I questioned the students on was something we have been experiencing together as a nation: the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, we were all told to stay in our houses and not leave unless it was for essential means. When asked whether or not they stayed quarantined since March, most students said that they did not. One student by the name of Ibiza, had gone to her tennis and volleyball practices. She stated that everyone always wore their mask and stayed within six feet of each other. Another student went to a small get-together with her friends, but only after ensuring that everyone invited was perfectly healthy.
None of the people I interviewed have gotten COVID, but one student did lose his father and grandparents to the virus. He said it happened in the early months of quarantine when not many people were taking the virus seriously. He noted that it was a terrible experience, especially losing his grandmother. He wants to emphasize that the virus is a real thing, and it should be taken seriously.
That bleeds into the next topic. All the students I interviewed agreed that the city of Miami did not handle the pandemic correctly. One student, Melanie, made a great point about how Miami-Dade opening early just created a cycle. She said that the moment cases dipped, they would open up, but when they opened back up, cases also rose. Ibiza also mentioned schools opening up. We have all seen pictures of big schools’ hallways, like Braddock or Ferguson; they’re walking shoulder to shoulder. She said that if schools were going to open up, they have to enforce social distancing, or cases will only get worse.
The next topic I asked about is immigration in America. To start, most students I interviewed are from Hispanic immigrant families. Two are the second generation, and one is the first generation.
First off, these students recognize that the immigration process is prolonged. Melanie acknowledged that the process is designed to be slow purposely to keep control of who was entering, but she also says that it could be too slow for people who need it most. Ibiza also discussed this: she knew of a man who had been waiting for a visa for 15 years. He died before he could get it.
This led to all of the students, even those not related to immigrants, stating that illegal immigrants are not in the wrong. One said that some people immigrate to the US to escape dangerous lives, and if they need immediate assistance, it is justified to not go through a process they know is too slow. Another interviewee, Michelle, knows illegal immigrants, and she says they all came from terrible places looking for better lives. She has seen how they have to hide from ICE and deny healthcare, just from the fear that they’ll be forced to go back to the very place they escaped.
The last topic I discussed is a crucial topic that should be spoken about more often: the Black Lives Matter movement. All of the interviewees understand and agree with the premises of this movement. Ibiza defined it as “a showcase that black lives are being put down and oppressed.”
The students also said that Black Americans are 100% justified in taking to the streets in protests. They all acknowledged that black people are being killed out on the streets, kept from job opportunities, and profiled in real estate situations. Melanie claims that racial discrimination has been going on since before this country was founded. The students did agree that the riots were unacceptable; no matter the race of whoever was rioting, looting stores, and setting them on fire, there is no excuse.
The students also all said that the police were not handling the situation appropriately. Michelle mentioned how police take an oath to protect all citizens yet discriminate against specific minorities. Also, they talked about how some police tried to break up the protests when the public has a right to assemble and protest. One said that attacking protestors who have the right to protest is not “enforcing the law.”
So, most students I interviewed shared the same basic views. While some word choices may have varied, they all meant the same thing. These students do take the pandemic seriously overall and just want it to be treated correctly and for it to end. They also agreed that people should not discriminate against others and people have the right to protest against systemic racism in our country without violence freely.
Overall, we simply want to be heard and treated fairly. Despite our physical or cultural differences, our generation is mostly the same in mind.