Image of Resilience

RHS senior speaks out on racial adversities while preparing herself for life after graduation

Jasmine+Jackson+greets+customer+as+she+makes+a+shake+at+Nourish+the+Dotte.

Lucie Gripp

Jasmine Jackson greets customer as she makes a shake at Nourish the Dotte.

Coming to school with a smile and positive attitude every day, one may think life for RHS senior Jasmine Jackson has been a walk in the park; however, having grown up as a minority in her town, that is not the case.
“I didn’t really notice I was different until I became a teenager because I went to elementary school at a pretty diverse school. That all changed when I ended up moving schools from Lincoln Park to Wyandotte,” Jackson said. “I became a target for bullying due to my skin and size and it was clear I was a minority. Though it was hard to deal with, I came to realize that it was not the intention of my classmates to offend me, it was because they didn’t understand what they were saying was offensive.”
Since her life is very different from a majority of her classmates, Jackson shares her unique life experience at events like the People’s Purpose Project-hosted “Images of Resilience” in order to help educate her community on the everyday struggles of being a Black individual in a predominantly white area.
“Events like Images of Resilience give me a chance to not only speak my truth but to also share the racial injustices my father has experienced. Though it can be hard to talk about serious issues, I feel it is extremely important to get the word out because it is usually the first time people my age hear stories of oppression and bullying first hand from a classmate not from a history book or from the news,” Jackson said. “By sharing my story I hope it inspires people to see things from my perspective and help them become more accepting and understanding of other people regardless of race.”
This is not the first time Jackson has shed light on the importance of understanding and embracing culture in teenagers’ lives.
“We did a little series on the Daily Dose called ‘Becoming a Cultured Bear’ where we had members of different cultural backgrounds talk about their lives and what their culture means to them in order to shed light on the importance of accepting and being knowledgeable on others’ culture,” Jackson said.
In addition to her work as an activist and full-time student, Jackson works part-time at both city hall and at Nourish the Dotte.
“Honestly, it is exhausting, but I’m very focused on trying to be independent in preparation for college,” Jackson said. “Working two jobs has taught me to get along with people from all different walks of life, how to manage my time, and to stay motivated.”
Despite the stress, Jackson spreads both her positivity and wisdom to all her co-workers and customers.
“Jasmine has got to be my favorite person to work with. Every time I come into work with her, she makes sure every single customer leaves in a better mood than they came in with. She is very inspiring to me personally because she is extremely hard-working in everything she is passionate about,” co-worker Kate Wagatha said. “Jasmine’s openness about her life and optimism has really caused me to gain more confidence and be more outspoken about my life. She inspires me to speak my mind and stay positive despite what is going on.”
Tasked with balancing school, both jobs, and life, Jackson has always had to remain focused and work hard to keep her grades up in school.
“Since freshman year I have struggled with my grades. There have been a lot of deaths in my life since I was 11 and that was the major root of the issue. I just didn’t know how to cope with it and became really depressed. Luckily, therapy helped me get out of that funk I was in at the end of this past summer. My GPA was too low and prevented me from getting into Western Michigan University, the college I really wanted to go to. I refused to let that stop me from achieving my dream and used it as motivation,” Jackson said. “I worked extremely hard all first semester and got all my grades up, getting a 3.45 last semester. I was able to resubmit my transcripts and get accepted to Western.”
Jasmine’s perseverant nature has rubbed off on her closest friends, including junior Jake Conz.
“Jasmine’s ‘never give up’ attitude and her activism inspires me because it lets me know that I can do whatever I put my mind to and reminds me that there is hope for the next generations,” Conz said.
Jackson hopes she can continue to inspire others to fight for what they believe in.
“I live by the motto you get what you work for. I apply it to friendships, grades, work, everything. I just always hope to inspire people to be the light in everyone’s day cause you don’t know what darkness that small act could pull them out of,” Jackson said.