“Even though there’s a two-percent population of black people in this city, it’s still important to make those people feel heard, welcomed, understood, appreciated, loved and respected”—those are the words of 19-year-old Claire Anneet, who for the past week has organized local protests in Malibu in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The Malibu High School graduate stands at the corner of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway daily with a growing crowd of supporters.
“When I saw what happened to George Floyd on the news, I immediately wanted to go out and protest in Los Angeles, but my mom was really worried that I would fall into the hands of the police, get arrested or have something horrible happen,” Anneet told The Malibu Times in a recent phone interview. “I decided to take it upon myself to just stand with my mom at Webb Way, an historic spot for protesting, hold some signs and try to get others to join in.”
When Anneet first posted on Instagram, she wasn’t expecting the 50 supporters who showed the first day. She was touched when she saw “some kids I would never think would come.”
“I’m a mixed girl,” Anneet said, explaining her biracial heritage. “My dad was born in Congo. My mom’s white.” The 2019 MHS graduate explained she always felt an undercurrent of racism at school and was often questioned about her heritage, but clarified, “No one was ever flat-out racist toward me, but there was a buildup for me and some of my friends who are also black. We noticed, collectively, that a lot of students just didn’t know how to talk to black people.” Mostly, Anneet said, she experienced ignorance—citing some students questioning, “’Are you from the Bongo?’ That kind of stuff.”
“I’m not what you’d expect someone from Malibu to look like. There was a weird reaction like someone who looks like me wouldn’t go to Malibu High. At the time I didn’t think that, but when all of this stuff started going down even before George Floyd I was thinking about all the subtle racism, ignorance and prejudice I experienced at school.
“It was really heartwarming, after all I had experienced at Malibu High School, to see so many students support this movement because we live in Malibu,” she continued. “It’s a Malibu bubble. Things happen outside of us (in Malibu)—it never really makes its way in. I’m so happy this did.”
The young woman has been at Webb Way for more than a week with a growing number of supporters.
Anneet, now a student at Sarah Lawrence College, described the protest, saying participants practice physical distancing with everyone masked.
Many people honk in support of the BLM movement.
“I’ve seen people sticking their head out the window, giving me the ‘Black Power’ fist,” Anneet said. Some give her a thumbs up. Some respond with middle fingers up or scream out, “Donald Trump 2020.” She said people can be rude, but that it will never stop her activism.
“I’m going to keep going as long as everyone else in the country does,” Anneet said. She’s touched that as many as 100 people have shown up to protest alongside her—including many people she doesn’t know.
“We’re here to fight injustice, racism and police brutality. We’re going to use our voice to make change. When I see black men across America die at the hands of the police that are supposed to protect them, in the back of my head I’m always wondering if my dad or some of my friends might be next,” she said. “People who have white privilege [are new] to this movement to end racism, criminal justice reform and equality—it has always been viewed as a black people issue. It makes me happy to see people from all ethnicities in Malibu to come together and fight for this cause. It’s not a black issue anymore. It’s everyone’s issue.”