Samira Jackson Stands Tall to Reach Goals

Samira Jackson, a young woman from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shares her story of being a black woman in 2021.


Jackson celebrating her 17th birthday

Like most young adults in small-town Pennsylvania, Samira Jackson is doing her best to get through her senior year and transition to adulthood. 2021 has posed a unique set of stressors, and Jackson has felt them.  Between her upcoming graduation and the challenges brought on by Covid-19, her hands are more than full. She is tasked with balancing these difficult stressors, in addition to working. 

Jackson has worked at the Latrobe Taco Bell for 11 months as a team trainer. Seeing her mother’s hard work to provide for their family has instilled a strong work ethic in her from childhood. Samira acknowledged her mother as her personal role model.

Unlike the vast majority of her fellow classmates and neighbors, Jackson is tasked with navigating the changing landscape of America as a black woman. While she enjoyed growing up in Latrobe, mostly shielded from the world and its prejudices, she was not blind to them. 

“The first time I can remember an act of prejudice against me was in third grade,” she explained. 

Minorities in the United States, especially in majority-white areas, can relate. Without exposure to diversity at a young age, children may hold prejudice towards others. Often, it is a mix of true ignorance and generational racism that impacts people of color at a young age. Despite happening nearly a decade ago, the event was still fresh in Jackson’s mind. 

“A girl came up to me and asked if I was dirty. She couldn’t understand how my palms were lighter than the rest of me and thought I wasn’t clean. She thought I was from a different country.” 

Even as she retold the story, Jackson stood tall, her voice clear, not a hint of anger visible. The now 17-year-old speaks of herself with pride, clearly aware of her accomplishments and capabilities. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, especially for civil rights. So many people don’t get a fair trial, and I would really enjoy representing immigrants. I want to help them gain a fair advantage and to strive in life,” she explained. 

Jackson’s eyes shined as she shared her career interests. The teen’s selflessness was obvious in her description of helping others. Her motivation to ensure equality across the justice system drives her to succeed. In the United States, just four percent of attorneys identify as black, a shocking statistic considering black Americans make up at least 14% of the total population.

The recent protests against police brutality in the United States have prompted new discussions about race in America, and Jackson shared what was personally most difficult for her. 

“It hurt me to see so many people I knew come to the polices’ defense, finding excuses to justify their actions. A long-time friend of mine even said there should be no protests in the first place,” she said, shaking her head in utter disbelief. 

As Samira continued to speak, a depressing realization settled upon her, a deep frown etched on her face. 

“No, I don´t think there will ever be true equality in America,” said Jackson.

Considering the depth of inequalities facing minorities in the United States, even in 2021, her answer was understandable. 

57 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, African Americans still face a number of deeply pervasive issues not shared by their fellow Americans. From police brutality, inequalities in the justice system, uninformed medical care, to the issues of ¨red-lining¨ and housing discrimination, black people in the United States are tasked with overcoming obstacles far beyond the average citizen. Despite this unfortunate history, Jackson is intent to carve her own destiny and advocate for change. 

Samira Jackson is a young woman, with the strength and determination of a thousand warriors. She wears her pure heart on her chest and is rarely seen not sporting a smile. Knowing herself and her worth, Jackson will find great success in her future. Samira Jackson is going to change the world.