Name: Amel Weaver
Programs and activities: Afrikan American Affairs, Texas Darlins, Student Government Executive Board for Women’s Resources Agency; Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, Austin Equity Office, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
While taking a Liberal Arts Honors class titled Interpreting Black Rage, Amel Weaver delved deeper into past and present civil rights protests—and the many methods of activism that make the greatest waves in race-based legislation.
“I have learned there is no right or wrong way to protest as long as it’s done with intention and that it further elevates the movement, says Weaver, who is the current director of operations for Afrikan American Affairs, a student agency within the Multicultural Engagement Center. “Activism works differently for everybody. I’ve been interning with the Austin Equity Office this summer; that’s my way of advocating, by being at the table where decisions are made.”
We chatted with Weaver to learn more about her thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement and how she is working to make a difference out in the community.
Understanding Black rage… “People should take more classes like Interpreting Black Rage. It opened me up so much to what’s going on in our community—things like mental illness, education, what it means to be a Black woman or a Black man. One thing that really struck me is that we were never meant to be successful in these systems because they weren’t built with us in mind.”
If it bleeds it leads… “There are so many ways you can make a difference—whether it be protesting on the streets, handing out food and water to protesters or even breaking the law. This country glorifies violence in general and the media picks up on things like looting and structure fires, so sometimes that’s the only way Black people get attention. When George Floyd died, it took an entire police precinct to burn down for people to finally get it.”
Overhauling the system… “Racism is systematic and it is everywhere. We’re tired of reform; things don’t need to be reformed. They have to be dismantled and rebuilt because these systems are not meant to serve everyone. That’s the truth, especially for law enforcement, which is rooted in slavery and needs to start over.”
Being Black in America… “To be Black in America, you have to be in a constant state of paranoia. You have to think two steps ahead. If you move somewhere to get a better job, you have to really consider your safety in that area. As a Black woman, you also have to think about whether someone could do your hair the right way because it’s not ‘professional’ to wear their natural hair.”
Paving a new way… “There’s also a disconnect with older and younger generations of Black people. Older people have been taught that it’s not ‘professional’ to be Black. Now it’s time to change those standards and make them not just accommodating but accepting. It’s not to say they didn’t pave the way for younger generations, but we’re walking on that pavement and turning into another direction.”
Changing the systems… “There’s a lot of talk about defunding the police, but that will be difficult because it would cause a ripple effect. I do believe that more money should be poured into mental health services to help get so many lives in order. That’s what I’d like to see come from this movement. We need to change these systems so these racist people can no longer be in charge. Through this movement I want to see a shift in mindset.”
A story of inspiration… “I draw a lot of inspiration from Cyntoia Brown, who was a victim of sex trafficking. When she was arrested for shooting a man who was soliciting sex, the jury saw her as an out-of-control Black teenager. She went to jail for many years before she was granted clemency, and her story is truly amazing. While in prison—a system that is meant to break Black people down—she built herself up by earning a degree and later becoming an advocate against sex trafficking. Her story shows that no matter what we go through, we will be alright.”