Coco Gauff might not be old enough to vote, but she’s pleading with those who can to make a change. On Wednesday, the 16-year-old tennis star spoke during a protest in her hometown of Delray Beach, FL, where she spelled out specific action items to demand change and stand against racism. Gauff starts by addressing how downright heartbreaking it is that she’s fighting the same fight her grandmother protested against 50 years ago, but everyone needs to work together to implement major changes now.
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“I demand change now. It’s sad that it takes another Black man’s life to be lost for all of this to happen, but you have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor. I was 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed, so why am I here at 16 still demanding change? . . . Black lives have always mattered.”
Gauff expressed that she’s spent the week having the tough but necessary conversations with her non-Black friends, but that is just the start of the work that needs to be done.
“We must first love each other no matter what. We must have the tough conversations. Second, we need to take action. And yes, we’re all out here protesting, and I’m not of age to vote, but it’s in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother’s future, and for your future because that’s one way to make change.”
In addition to voting in all elections no matter the size and donating to racial justice organizations, Gauff is asking everyone to use their voice “no matter how big or small your platform is.” At just 16 years old, she is using her own to demand change and inspire the next generation to do the same. She is a role model in her sport and in her activism.
“If you are choosing silence, you are choosing the side of the oppressor.”
It’s hard to believe that this beautiful, talented, intelligent, caring human being is only 16. We love you Coco!