Révolutionnaire Team Révolutionnaire Team
Révolutionnaire Team

After almost nine years of living in Sylvania I have finally been able to ask myself some important questions in regards to my time here. Questions I was too afraid to ask myself while I still lived here full time. In complete transparency, I have been greatly overwhelmed by the past few days. Being Black in America is an everyday job, and these last few days have felt like overtime to many, myself included. I’ve decided to translate my feelings into a single statement on this issue and how it pertains to Sylvania in particular. I was against this at first, but after seeing other brave individuals speak out, I’d be remiss to not share how I feel, as well as some of my experiences here. Please remember, every conversation had about racism and experiences which we have been through is a traumatizing experience. Respect and appreciate your Black Neighbors for their strength and bravery in these strange and overwhelming times.


“What’s so hard about being black in Sylvania? You can be anything anywhere in the world if you just mind your **bleep** business.” - A Sylvania school student, to me, just three days ago.


Living in Sylvania made me censor myself. For years, I felt afraid to speak up on certain issues because I knew the storm that would erupt in the type of climate I was in. I am fortunate enough to reflect on this and shift my habits, but looking back on it, nine year old Jayden Bolden wasn’t worried about racism. He was worried about fitting in with the kids at his new school, none of which looked like him at all. So if fitting in took a few racist jokes here and there, so be it. At least that’s what I thought. As time went on, I began to feel ostracized. I knew what racism was, but experiencing even the slightest bit of it made me feel so different from those around me. I remember crying in class because of a racist joke made towards me in 5th grade. A teacher asked me what was wrong, and I just said that I got bullied. The kids teased me about being black with such ease, I almost forgot that it was wrong to do that. I just had to adapt. This was an unfortunate trend that stuck from the day I moved here in 4th grade to the day I graduated from Northview. I conditioned myself to censor every conversation I had with any white counterpart without even knowing it. As I got older, I began to realize what had happened, but I didn’t know how to change it. All I saw was the negative in being black. Between the school books and the actual classroom environment, I had been conditioned to feel inferior. 

I was confused. I was confused as to how my friends didn’t suspect that I didn’t like these jokes. Sure, I laughed sometimes, but only to cover how uncomfortable I was. I was confused as to how my classmates could not see past the bubble of this city. If you don’t know what bubble I’m talking about, it may be time to broaden your perspective of the world. 

I want to share a few stories with you, to illustrate just how hidden the issue typically is to the unexpecting observer. Keep in mind, if I were to share every racist encounter I’ve had within Sylvania Schools alone, I would have to write a whole book.

My senior year at Northview, I went to a good friends birthday party. There are roughly 20 people there. I’m one of two People of Color. As everyone gathers in the main room to just sit and talk, someone suggests that we listen to music. “Hey, play Hot Nii... by Bobby Shmurda!” one kid, who I’ll name Todd, yells over to whoever had the aux (Hot N**** by Bobby Shmurda is a popular rap song). Who is he looking at with the deepest grin on his face? Not the person with the aux.

Me, the only Black Person in the room.

The song plays and whenever the N word comes up, Todd begins to say it and then lets the word fade out and starts cracking up. I laugh uncomfortably and leave it at that. Can my peers sense my discomfort? Definitely. But it’s just a joke, just for comedic value, so it’s harmless, right?

They just laugh and move on. 

That  incident replayed in nobody's mind but mine that whole night. My discomfort had to be evident. I wanted to storm out. Maybe cause a scene. It isn’t fair that I have to go through this, I thought. Especially when this isn’t the first incident Todd has tried to alienate me because of my race. But the last thing I wanted was to ruin my friend's party and come to school the next day as the trending topic. So I stayed silent, and so did everyone else.

It was the first football game of my Sophomore year. I was starting on offense at center, my first Varsity start ever. We’re playing Waite, a predominantly Black football team. On four different occasions throughout the game I witnessed one of my teammates call a Black player on Waite’s team a **bleep**.

I froze the first time I heard one of my teammates, who I’ll name Brad, say it during a game. I was disgusted. I was scared. I thought about what would happen if I just took my gear off right then and there, and just went home. How could I play alongside this dude, knowing that the only thing saving him from calling me the same thing was that I was on his team? All it took was a little bit of competition for him to expose his true colors. 

I thought about using asterisks to cover the ugly word, but decided against it. There were no asterisks when he said it. No censorship. No one to tell me that he was just joking. Just traditional, bred hatred spewed out of his mouth. 

And what about everyone else? I wasn’t the only one aware of this issue. In fact, the more he did it throughout the season, the more others chimed in. Those who didn’t say it didn’t have an issue with it. Probably because they saw the two or three Black kids ignoring it, so they left it alone. If only they knew how much strength it took to keep our cool every time we faced a situation like that. 

Just last week a Black friend, who I will name Jon, shared a conversation he had with a white friend, who I will name Nick. Nick participated in Black out Tuesday, the social media trend of posting a plain, black photo. “It’s so awful what happened to George Floyd. I feel so bad for his family” Nick said. When Jon asked Nick if he would be more upset if it were Jon who were killed besides George Floyd, Nick responds with “Of course I would be more upset! You’re my friend.” he says. Jon says, “Well, that’s the issue. You should care just as much, because the reality is, that could have just as easily been me.” Internalize that. Sure, it may not happen to Jon here in Sylvania, the small, all-be-well town where everyone knows each other… But Jon, as a black man, is perceived as a threat anywhere where his face is not known. 

It’s okay if you don’t agree with that last statement, because you don’t have to. White America has proved it day in and day out, from pointless 911 calls to denying us entry into our own apartment building to shooting us while our hands are up in the air. The Black experience is not negotiable, up for debate, or in need of your opinion.

We need you to understand that the 14 year old Black Boy you saw walking home from school that one day is George Floyd, and George Floyd is the 14 year old Black Boy you saw walking home from school that one day.

We need you to understand that the Black law student who just graduated with his MBA is George Floyd, and George Floyd is the Black law student who just graduated with his MBA.

We need you to understand that the Black Father you saw shopping with his son is George Floyd, and George Floyd is the Black Father you saw shopping with his son.

We need you to understand that George Floyd is me, and I am George Floyd. 

Do you see how, if you stand with one of us, you must stand with all of us?

Do you also see, If you stand with less than all of us, you stand with none of us?


Read that again.

If you stand with one of us, you must stand with all of us.

If you stand with less than all of us, consequently, you stand with none of us.


A lot of non-POC have been asking me, “What can I do to help this cause?” Educating yourself on systemic racism, donating what you can to one/some of the many organizations/GoFundMe’s available in support of the cause (please make sure they’re legit, first) signing petitions, supporting the local Black owned businesses, voting for people who will implement change, these are all great ways to further the movement. But, there are two important steps that are critical in moving forward as a community.


  1.  Understand and internalize the fact that the daily experience for People of Color is different from that of a non-POC. 

  2. Understand that this change requires daily action. Real change is made when you shift your mindset, which allows you to change your habits, which allows those around you to observe, learn and follow your lead, so then they can pass it on. The job ain’t done once you put your phone down. 


There is an ugly stain of racism on this country’s fabric that has not been fully cleansed, only whitewashed. This has caused racism to be perceived as an issue of the past. But racism is more than being nice to the person across from you. That is just social racism. Just because Blacks don’t get hosed in the streets anymore doesn’t mean everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the system. Start that conversation. With friends, family, even your children. The issue the world is fighting is not just social, but systemic racism as well… What most people think of when they think of racism is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Look up the history of Jim Crow. Look up the history of discriminatory housing/lending practices in America. Look up the history of redlining, one of the main reasons I was one of roughly five black students in my grade when I first moved here in 2010. Look up the real history of Christoper Columbus and the genocide the Spaniards committed when they “founded” America… Look up the real reasons the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock... After doing research you will realize you very well may be reaping the benefits of said institutional racism. This isn’t to blame or target anyone. This is to raise awareness. Living in this bubble city gives the false sense of security that everything in life is just how it is here in Sylvania, when that’s far from the truth. Until that bubble of perception is popped, division driven from misunderstandings will remain an issue for People of Color here, and everywhere else. It is up to non-POC to acknowledge their privilege. 


As people of a democracy, each and every one of us has a responsibility. Heavy introspection, retrospection and furthering the dialogue with friends and family will get the ball rolling for change. Targeted consumerism, petitioning, and showing up to the polls will help solidify the change moving forward. This fight for true equality will not be done overnight. The pain and anguish of over 400 years of oppression has not gone anywhere, we just have been coerced to suppress how we truly feel about it. But we’re talking, now, and I’m not the only one who is sure that change is coming. Think ten, twenty years down the road. What side of history do you want to be on?

To my people, I’m sorry for staying silent for so long. No more. 

No more. 


With Love & Passion