The question asked: Which issues need to be discussed and debated regarding black lives in the upcoming presidential election?

“Well,” said Alicia Garza, “pick one.”

The crowd responded with candid laughter, knowing that Alicia Garza, the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, gave an answer that was all too true.

More than 500 students gathered in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to see Rise Above Week’s “An Afternoon Conversation with Alicia Garza.”

Throughout the session, one key aspect Garza emphasized is that #BlackLivesMatter is not only about the police brutality that African Americans face.

Nov. 25, 2014 - Junior government and politics major Opeyemi Owoye chants with fellow protesters. (Sung-Min Kim/Bloc Photographer)
Nov. 25, 2014 – Junior government and politics major Opeyemi Owoye chants with fellow protesters. (Sung-Min Kim/For The Bloc)

“There are multiple ways in which black people are impacted by state sanctioned violence,” Garza said. “Police violence is not the only way that that happens.”

Paige Weiss, a freshman theater major, said she was not aware of the scope of issues that #BlackLivesMatter deals with.

“I always thought that it was specifically about police brutality towards black people,” she said.

Nov. 25, 2014 - Senior English and theater major Anthony Douglas presents an emotionally-driven speech. (Trey Sherman/For The Bloc)
Nov. 25, 2014 – Senior English and theater major Anthony Douglas presents an emotionally-driven speech. (Trey Sherman/For The Bloc)

Weiss brought up other matters that #BlackLivesMatter presents, like how black women make 64 cents to every dollar that a white man makes, as Garza said.

Masanga Kiminu, a freshman biology major, said she was glad that issues regarding violence on black trans lives were brought up.  

Nov. 25, 2014- Sgt. Rosie Hoaas observes the protests, which lasted nearly three hours. (Trey Sherman/Bloc Reporter)
Nov. 25, 2014 – Sgt. Rosie Hoaas observes the protests, which lasted nearly three hours. (Trey Sherman/For The Bloc)

“I think it was important how they were talking about trans lives and other issues they discussed other than black men being shot,” Kiminu said. “It’s less about the police brutalization and more about all issues African Americans face.” 

Zainab Lewal, a junior psychology major, said that it is important to bring awareness to the #BlackLivesMatter movement so that people understand that it is more than just a hashtag.  

“It’s everywhere,” Lewal said. “[People] don’t really have any idea where it came about.”

Many, including the diversity office on Rise Above Week’s advertising flyer, coined #BlackLivesMatter as the modern civil right’s movement. Garza said that this was not necessarily true.

“I’m really cautious around being branded the new civil rights movement,” said Garza. “There’s a civil rights movement and it’s been happening for a really long time.”

Garza said that the reason why it seems like #BlackLivesMatter is the civil rights movement of our time is because the organization of the #BlackLivesMatter “upsurge” for civil liberties is so effective. She said there are 26 chapters of #BlackLivesMatter, including one at this university. 

Featured is a reenactment from late December's UMD protest against police brutality in Ferguson.
Featured is a reenactment from late December’s UMD protest against police brutality in Ferguson.

#BlackLivesMatter announced a petition early Tuesday that demands there to be a #BlackLivesMatter Democratic national debate for the 2016 candidates.

Garza said that the number of Democratic presidential debates is limiting (there are six) and that one of them should be dedicated to the discussion of African American issues.

When friends of Garza contacted her after the first Democratic presidential debate regarding the candidates’ saying “black lives matter,” Garza said that this was not enough. She said she wants to know why they believe black lives matter and how they’re going to make changes regarding black lives.

“No more speeches,” said Garza. “We want to know, do you believe that black lives matter? It’s a very simple question.”

Featured Photo Credit: December 16, 2014 – Featured is a mother and her son during a race-related protest in D.C. (Trey Sherman/For The Bloc)

WritersBloc_Headshots_23Alex Carolan is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at aaalex.carolan@gmail.com.

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