I March To End The Violence Around Me

Refinery29 is partnering with Girls Who Code for the #MarchForSisterhood on International Day of the Girl. This is the first-ever all-digital global march. Come back each day this week to learn about why different young women are participating, and join us as we #MarchForSisterhood on any of your social media channels this Friday, October 11, 2019.
When my brother, Ricardo, was in high school, he was shot and killed outside our home in South Central Los Angeles. The day my brother was killed, I lost my hero. I lost my sense of self. I still haven’t been able to escape the anxiety and the trauma that has followed me everyday since. 
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This isn’t new for my community. It happens so frequently, it’s been normalized for all of us. But we can’t allow this to happen anymore. Every day gun violence has rocked my community since before I was born. I have attended countless memorials and I have watched while friends lit candles and parents wept for the Black and brown youth we lost. 
I want everyone to understand the circumstances we are asking young people to grow up in. We have to be ready to dodge a bullet while in class, walking home, or just going to visit our loved ones. In schools, we’re made to feel like criminals where we’re supposed to feel empowered. In order to make change, everyone must understand the trauma that stays with me and my classmates. 
And it’s not just gun violence that we’re struggling with. Our neighborhoods are over-policed, our schools are under-funded, and we are targeted through immigration policies. I felt this deeply when my father was deported in 2016. The moment I found out I had lost my father to immigration was so painful; I knew I had to do something. 
Community Coalition gave me the voice and the tools to take action. Before I joined, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up for myself or for my community. I didn’t know how to channel my anger to push for change. Now, I organize workshops, work to impact policy, and share my story whenever I can. Becoming a youth leader taught me that now is our time to fight. Enough is enough and we can’t be silent anymore. 
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We know that arming teachers doesn’t work. We know that over-policing doesn’t work. We know that zero tolerance policies don’t work. We need real change. We need restorative justice, mental health programs, resources, and more. We want to change the environments that fostered the violence and trauma in our communities in the first place. That’s why this year on Day of the Girl, I’m joining Girls Who Code in the #MarchForSisterhood — to elevate the voices of girls across the world fighting to make a difference. 
Girls are ready to make a change, we’re ready to change our story. Today, we are connected to one another more than ever before and this is our chance to join together for change. We’re bringing our fight online, so we can speak up and show up as a united front by girls, for girls, and about girls. 

I march because I am a youth leader, a survivor, and an activist. I march to uplift my south LA community and my activist sisters. I march because we deserve to be heard, as one voice for change. La lucha sigue. The fight goes on. 
Edna Lizbeth Chavez is a youth organizer from South Central Los Angeles. She is an advocate for many things such as immigration rights, social and educational justice and an ally for many of those that fight for their community.
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