Dylan Brown ’17 related his experience with racism, and what it means to be young, Black and male in America, at the TEDxYouth@SHC event held at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School in San Francisco last April. The video was recently posted on YouTube, and the story about what led him to seek out the opportunity to present at TEDxYouth is featured below.
Dylan Brown ’17 was saddened by the February 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. But what happened to Dylan just a few days after Martin’s shooting left him shaken and bewildered.
It was late in the evening, and Dylan and his mom had gone to their local grocery store – a place the pair frequented often – to pick up a few items. Dressed in sweats and a hoodie, Dylan wandered down one aisle, while his mom was in another. Suddenly, the store owner came up to Dylan and accused him of stealing.
When Dylan’s mom approached, the store owner’s tone and narrative changed dramatically. Dylan’s mom is white. Dylan is bi-racial.
“That wasn’t my first encounter with racism, but the experience really impacted me. All the store owner saw was the color of my skin. He didn’t see me as an Honor Roll student who works hard,” Dylan said. “It was a loss of innocence for me.”
Dylan will be relating his experiences with racism, and what it means to be young, Black and male in America, at the April 9 TEDxYouth@SHC event being held at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School in San Francisco.
His presentation is based on an essay that he wrote for a Telluride Association Summer Program. “The essay was about my experience with racism. This is very personal for me, and I felt I could give a good speech about it,” Dylan said.
Dylan was inspired to seek out the TEDxYouth@SHC opportunity as a result of Halie Baker’s ’15 participation in the event last year. Her talk also centered on racism.
Others who have influenced Dylan to be a voice for change include Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and Van Jones, a CNN political contributor who has founded and led numerous social enterprises engaged in social and environmental justice.
“Speaking at TEDxYouth is such a great opportunity. I feel that it is really important to speak up on issues like racism, because drawing awareness is the first step to change,” he said. “I want to inspire and encourage people to look at the issue in a new way – from the youth perspective.”
Dylan’s counselor Janet Huff said Dylan has the essential qualities of an emerging leader. “He is passionate, compassionate, articulate, energetic, thoughtful and a great ambassador for O’Dowd,” she said.