george floyd protests

Young Protester Reflects on Graduation, Recent Detainment, and Lessons From Her Mother

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In many households, activism and civic engagement is encouraged. That’s been the case for quite a few young people taking the streets in protest of the killing of yet another black man at the hands of police.

Wednesday was graduation day in the Kazadi household. Monique Kazadi prepped her daughter, Isis, for commencement, just as she’s prepped her for life.

“You raise your children to be independent, to have conviction and when they see something and it matters to them, to act on it,” said Kazadi.

It’s a proud moment for the entire family. But they know Isis has already stepped into adulthood having felt the weight of her convictions on Monday night.

“It kind of took me a minute to just process everything,” said Isis Kazadi.

Isis, just 18, joined the rally in Dallas. She said participants were calm and not causing trouble.

“It was really, really peaceful,” she said. “I’ve never been more empowered in that way.”

She was also among those hemmed in by law enforcement on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, placed on the ground and detained. The first call was to her mom.

“I was like ‘ok listen, it’s going to sound scary but please be quiet. I can’t talk to you right now. Please be quiet,’” she said.

Her mother sat speechless on the other end.

“She was so scared. And I could hear it. And that was hard,” said Monique Kazadi. “I could hear the officers talking to her. I could hear her responding. And I’m just thinking in my head ‘remember everything I taught you,’”

What she’s taught her daughter isn’t just how to interact with police, but how to move in the world as a black woman.

“This strong, independent woman with so much conviction,” she said.

It’s that self-assuredness that Monique Kazadi said she felt standing next to Isis during previous protests.

“When I stood next to her I could feel the energy coming off of her,” she said. “I think this is what’s she’s going to do. I think this is what she’s going to be. I think this is her path.”

It’s that energy, the images of George Floyd and Michael Brown, and her conviction that made Isis get on that bridge.

“When you realize that you live in that system that is purposefully targeting people and it’s not just a few bad apples. It pulls everybody together,” she said.

It’s that energy that both scares and excites her mother.

“Yes, I’m proud of her. And I’m afraid for her. But I’m proud,” said Monique Kazadi.

It’s the energy Isis said she will hold onto in order to effect change.

“But in order to push the people that can make those huge structural changes, you have to be loud. They don’t want to do it. It’s going to be hard,” said Isis. “But that’s where I’m at. If you don’t fight for it, you don’t really deserve it.

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