What keeps me up at night

June 5, 2018 / and

By Nikolas Lopez

There’s a lot that keeps me up at night.

As a Japanese and Mexican American, I’ve formed a unique perspective on life in America.

My parents taught me about how my grandmother left Mexico to ensure a better life for her future children and grandchildren. My other grandparents, both Japanese American citizens, were forced into internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Minorities are still being oppressed, and we need a change in today’s society.

It keeps me up at night knowing that African Americans are having the police called on them for simply “making people uncomfortable.” We saw this most recently when two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for occupying a table in the coffee shop without having first made a purchase, sparking a national conversation about racial bias.

It keeps me up at night to see history repeating itself.

In recent years there has been a rise in xenophobia, and I fear that other ethnic groups are going to endure what my grandparents went through. Anti-Hispanic sentiment is growing throughout the United States and people are demanding that Latinos “go back to their own country.”  

“Build the wall,” has become a rallying cry among many after President Donald J. Trump made it a fixture during his presidential campaign nearly two years ago.

The United States is our home and I believe the USA should be a place where every culture should be celebrated. There no gene for bigotry. It’s learned and whatever can be taught can be untaught.

It keeps me up at night to think about the frightening ignorance of many bigots.

It’s important that our country learns the value of other cultures. Many say something along the lines of “this is America — we speak English.” This statement isn’t anywhere close to being true. The United States has no official language.

Last year I was attacked because my heritage. I was told that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was going to be called on my family and that they were going to be deported. Even though I knew this wouldn’t happen because my family came here legally, it still cut deep.

It keeps me up at night thinking about the environmental stability of our planet.

Rising birthrates and a decline in mortality rates are contributing to overpopulation. Many politicians have written global warming off as a theory that can be debunked, but climate change is real. If we are not careful, we could easily kill off hundreds of species and leave irreversible damage to ecosystems all around the world.

The drought in South Africa needs to serve as a warning for the rest of the world about the dangers of abusing natural resources.

The safety of the environment should not be political, we all must understand the impact of our everyday choices and how we can help to save our planet.

It keeps me up at night every time I drive by an American flag flying at half-mast, which is becoming increasingly more common.

I remember growing up that flying a flag at half-mast meant there was a major tragedy.

Now it feels like it’s normal to see the flag at half mast on a routine basis. Our nation experiences a tragedy almost every day. Terrorist attacks and school shootings are no longer a massive shock, but feel like a mundane part of life. Instead of showing remorse or any form of sympathy, many go about their lives as if nothing has happened. Sometimes tragedies even turn into jokes. 

I still have hope for the future. The March for Our Lives movement was started to by students to push for stronger gun control. While attending one of the rallies I really felt empowered and a greater desire to help fight for change.

But it keeps me up at night that we have to fight for such change — that we have to fight for something as simple as our safety. Like I said, there’s a lot that keeps me up at night.

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Nikolas Lopez

Nikolas Lopez, 16, is a sophomore at Liberty High School. Nikolas joined South Kern Sol in May 2018.