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San Antonio teen organizing Black Lives Matter march

Trauma experts suggest recent protests are impacting the way teens of color see the world

SAN ANTONIO – J.D. Steward is only 13, but he is already planning for a better future.

The teen is organizing a march along the Hays Street Bridge. He said he wants to see police brutality and racial inequality come to an end.

“It’s up to the younger generation to make a change. We have to do it a better way," Steward said.

Steward plans to keep the march peaceful, but he has seen how quickly the situation can change.

“You never know what’s going to happen at at protest, it could be turned into a bad one, it could be a good one. You never know where it’s going to go,” he said.

Marcella Hayes, the Assistant Program Director at Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas, said Steward’s feelings are validated after weeks of protests against police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

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Hayes said teens of color have been feeling unsafe in their own neighborhoods.

“Children right now are not feeling safe in our brown and black communities this is something they’ve grown up with,” said Hayes.

As a result, teens want to get involved in the movement, Hayes said.

However, Hayes warned that channeling so much energy at once could lead to a downward spiral.

“Right now, adrenaline is very high but when that does come down there is going to be an exhaustion,” she said.

Hayes suggested teens seek social or peer support and parents ask questions that could lead to helpful conversations.

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“We have to learn how to express what we’re feeling,” said Hayes.

Steward said he is inspired to make a difference despite his age and as for the future, Steward said he is focused on the present.

“I know for the time-being right now I want to see some change," Steward said.