Amplifying Black Voices- Iyannah Tolliver

Krystal Orehek

The Black Lives Matter movement has swept the country in past months and many people of all races are becoming far more educated on issues Black people have faced for over 400 years of systemic racism. Addressing and discussing these issues is important; however, one of the best things you can do as an ally is to amplify Black voices.

One of the faces you’d see walking through the hallways of Sahuaro is that of Iyannah Tolliver. In her 3rd year at Sahuaro, she is always bringing positive energy to those around her and socializing with her friends. In just three years she’s been a huge asset to Sahuaro’s sports teams by participating in a whopping four sports, including: Girls Basketball, Volleyball, Cross Country, and Track and Field. The Black Lives Matter movement is very important to Iyannah and she’s offered us her perspective as a young Black woman, and a Sahuaro Cougar.

Iyannah has met microaggressions and discrimination face-to-face. “I get comments like, “You’re pretty for a black girl,” or I will get death stares because of my skin color.” She continues to clarify that these are only little examples of what she deals with on a nearly daily basis.

When asked about how she felt overall about the movement she said, “I feel very appreciative of the movement, I’m furious about what happened to George Floyd. But his death brought attention to what us Blacks go through just because of our skin color and we need justice.” The movement has received world-wide recognition in past months and Iyannah said, “I feel great about it. The movement deserves the attention it’s getting and we need to be heard.” The attention brought from the death of George Floyd was groundbreaking for this movement, but some worried that eventually the outrage would fade and it would just be seen as a temporary trend with no real progress being made. “I hope people really take time to realize racism is wrong and judging people by the color of their skin is wrong. I hope we can end up getting justice and we all as human beings can get along,” is what Iyannah hopes this movement will amount to in the end.

On the topic of support, Iyannah is happy to say she received support from friends and those close to her. “A lot of my friends showed support during the movement by just being able to talk about it, and most of my friends donated,” are some ways her friends expressed their care. With everything going on plus quarantine, she has been taking care of her mental health too. Because Iyannah is so athletic, running with some of her cross country friends has not only helped keep her in shape but kept her head clear. Music is something close to Iyannah’s heart and she is very passionate about it. She says, “Playing my ukulele and drums has been helping me a lot and is helping me with music ideas.” Cooking has been added to her list of quarantine activities as well because it helps her stay healthy while saving money.

Iyannah encourages everyone to donate to anything benefiting Black lives and to keep yourself educated, “We need justice and support!” She also wants everyone to know that, “If anyone ever needs to talk I will always be here to support you.”