Following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, protests against racist police violence flooded the streets of every borough in New York City, and continue to this day. Our photographers have been out documenting the historic moment, which is part of a larger national, youth-driven movement working to defund the police and end systemic racism. With hundreds of photos, we asked New York City teens to choose one that resonated with them, and write about it. Below is a piece from 18-year-old Alliyah Logan from the Bronx; she will be attending Smith College in the fall. You can follow her @alliyahlogan.

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot

The image of a Black person — alone, with hands suspended in the air — is a familiar one, and this silhouette, against a backdrop of storm clouds, conveyed a strong message to me.

Prior to the murder of George Floyd, it felt as though only Black people were advocating to dismantle racism and anti-Blackness. There was a burden for Black people in all spaces to have to advocate for themselves, and that conversation becomes harder when talking about the experiences of Black women and our intersectional identities. Personally, as a Black woman, I have the constant feeling that we're standing alone in this movement, battling both racism and sexism. A silhouette in the storm clouds.

Black Lives Matter has grown into a strong movement against police violence towards Black people, and while the focus is often on Black men, it is time to bring all of these silhouettes together. It is crucial for Black men and non-Black people to protect and fight for the protection of Black women, too. And uplift and affirm our identities through safe environments.

Protesters in Manhattan face off against the police

Protesters and police on May 28, 2020

Protesters and police on May 28, 2020
Scott Heins / Gothamist

This person standing on the gas station was conveying the same message that so many others have tried to convey, that Black people are not a threat, they are not endangering the lives of police officers. "Hands up, don't shoot," we say. (A phrase popularized in protests after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson). As I looked at this image, a person, standing alone — a Black woman, a Black man, a Black child — arms outstretched wide, hands high in the sky, I saw the vulnerability of Black people.

The background of the sky made me think of American history and our African American ancestors, faced with the same violence of racism we experience now. In every decade, every generation, there have always been Black people standing in the storm, carrying the burden of racism when it is up to non-Black people to dismantle it. But the storm clouds giving way to a clear patch signaled to me that Black liberation is possible in the 21st century.

Although it is difficult for Black people to have access to safety and justice in the world, the power of the people is stronger than any system, any government, any storm.