It's easy to imagine,

We can imagine there are no divisions, that there isn’t conflict

We can pretend that we're in this life, this fight alone and on our own

We can pretend that things are not as bad as they are

But we can't pretend forever, we can't ignore We can't ignore the problems in this world, this country, this state, our city

Our society has developed the tendency to pick and choose the bad to see and has formed a way to measure what's more important and what deserves more attention

I know that some of you may not really care about that, but

I know that you are aware that we still live in a time that individuals are ridiculed and attacked for their complexion

And yes, we have made progress but

It's 2016 and here we are living in a world where complete racial equality is still a dream

We, have allowed ourselves to believe that there is a relationship between our identity and how we appear physically meaning that our character is in a direct correlation to our heritage

But race does not equal character

Race is nothing more than mans' foolish mechanism of labeling human beings.

It is the misbelief that we are who we are as a result of the color of our skin or our physical features

Identity is not linked with heredity for who I am is not a gene passed down to me Instead it is entirely independent of any other factor outside of me

Some of us have succumbed to the misbelief that a factor of who we are is where we are

But location does not control us Location does not force us to act in any manner or way What's even worse is when we combine these two misconceptions to live up to the expectations; making our reputation a reality

When we allow others to continue to see us as "hoodrats" or "criminals" who live in the "ghetto" because for some reason Coatesville means bad

And apparently our test scores are trash But this perception is nothing more than an opinion to me because I don't know what it means to you but for me the statement "I bleed red and black" rings true

Because the things that I know about coatesville is that yes, like any city it has it's rough edges and there are some people that aren't always making the best decisions

But that's not what Coatesville is Coatesville is pride, Coatesville is unity Coatesville is overcoming hardships and scrutiny

Now living up to that definition isn't easy like imagining

We can't pretend our way out of this one We can't ignore the stereotype we face when we introduce ourselves everyday

Now we can't do this on our own

We can't do this by ourselves

We must join each other for help

And we may find that we may fall even after building an army to stand tall above adversity

But we will have no chance if we don’t start now.

To make these changes last we must put our pasts behind us and set our minds on one goal:

To not only survive but to also thrive

It’s time for Coatesville to no longer be the city that once was and become the city that is again

It takes a lot of people to move a mountain, but it only takes a few to start a movement

It takes me and it takes you too

We may never be able to change how others perceive us to be, But we do have the power to change who we are

We have the choice and the ability to rise above the stereotypes and to be a light

Before we start, we must all make a change in our hearts and recognize that while it’s easy to only try to change our own ways, the only way for Coatesville to see brighter days is if we strive to improve others’ lives

It’s time to look past the differences It’s time to dig deeper than each other’s histories

It’s time we rid ourselves of prejudice

It’s time we realize that despite, the color of our skin and our ethnicities we share one common circumstance

We live in or are from Coatesville

It’s time we embrace our diversity and become something more than a statistic.

- Meghan Atwell