“I’m in a good mood right now everyone is having fun, there’s no drama,” said 11th grader Alexus Clark, which sounds like a normal thing for any teenager to say at a party, but for Clark, whose 17-year-old brother was shot on Genesee st., and for her peers with similar experiences, it means so much more.
Take for example, Tyzere Holland, also in 11th grade, whose cousin was killed when he was young, and then one of his friends was killed outside the boys and girls club.
“Since I’ve seen so much I’ve become quiet. I have to watch my surroundings, because you’ve got to be able to feel tension in the room so you can know when to get out,and if you don’t that could be it,” said Holland.
Tyzere says he just got out of detention and has had a hard time navigating violence himself, which his classmate Chasmere Mister-Dixon says is unfortunately all too common.
“It pulls a lot of my peers into it, no matter how good they’re doing in school, once they touch or taste violence it spreads out of control,” said Mister-Dixon.
That’s why they say this roller skate party and the work that teen empowerment does is so much more than the sum of its parts.
“That’s why I’m at teen empowerment, said Clark, adding, “I have a voice and not just for myself but for others who want to talk and don’t have the voice to say it.”
For Tyzere, Alexus, Chasmere and their classmates, it’s a chance to be goofy, skate, chat with their friends, and dance, all without having to watch their back.
“We just wanted to get people away from the violence for a moment, give people a chance to be a kid to have fun be what they’re supposed to be,” said Mister-Dixon.