Programs and activities: Gender and Sexuality Center; Feminist Action Project, EmbrACE and HangOut Student Organizations; Queer Trans People of Color Agency (QTPOCA) Student Agency, Multicultural Engagement Center; Student Leadership Committee; Social Media Manager, Center for Community Engagement
Next up in this series, we are featuring an anonymous first-generation college student, who is advocating against racism and systematic oppression.
“I’ve experienced discrimination because of my ethnicity, and I have seen colorism and racism in my Latino community first-hand as a white-passing Latinx,” he says. “I stand with my Black siblings in their fight for equality.”
Read on to learn more about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement—and how we can all become better allies.
Fighting an everyday threat…“I have family that is darker-skinned, and every time someone threatens to involve the police I fear for them because of the police brutality that has been going on for years and years. It is in the benefit of everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, to dismantle racism in our everyday lives. That is why I will always believe Black Lives Matter.”
Enough is enough…“I was enraged, saddened, heartbroken, and appalled when I saw that video [of George Floyd’s death]. However, I was never shocked or surprised. I have known about the police brutality against Black people before and have listened to their fears against the police simply because of the color of their skin. As one of my Black friends told me a couple days after the video, ‘That could have been me.’ This is unacceptable and needs to be put to an end.”
Ending the cycles… “‘We need to end police brutality against people of color. We need to end the school-to-prison pipeline—and we need to make sure that white and Black people face the same times in jail. Black people are more likely to spend a longer sentence in jail than a white person, and we need to end this cycle. We also need to elect more people of color in important offices to make sure Black, Indigenous and people of color’s voices are being heard. We need to talk about racism in the classroom to prevent it from arising in our students and in academia.”
Elevating Black voices… “As a disabled, immunocompromised trans person who is stuck at home, there isn’t much I can do in terms of protesting in real life, but I do as much online activism as I can. I listen to videos and read content from creators of color that explain systematic racism and how to work against it. I constantly share and spread information about the BLM movement and have conversations with my family about what the movement really is, which can be difficult since my parents are conservative. I have also drawn and posted art honoring those whose lives have been lost to police brutality (George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade) and call action from my followers to support the BLM movement. In other words, I do my best to be an ally as a non-Black person who is in a position of power as a white-passing person.”
Advice for white allies… “Educate yourself. Don’t expect Black people to do it for you, and don’t play into white guilt to make you feel better about your whiteness. Seek out resources by people of color about how to be a white ally, and above all, listen to people of color when they tell you what you are saying is racist or problematic. Learn about systematic racism and how you benefit from it in order to dismantle it. Educate others near to you, if you have the ability to do so, and openly support BLM on social media and in real life.”
Advice for non-white, non-Black allies… “Educate yourself on colorism within our communities. Listen to Black people and uplift their voices all the time, not just when it’s ‘trending.’ The BLM movement may have become a trending topic, but this doesn’t end here. Racism is alive and well and Black people are facing discrimination—and they are even being killed due to the color of their skin. Have conversations with your family and friends about the BLM movement, even though it can be uncomfortable if you have conservative family members like mine. Learn how to undo internalized colorism from our communities and colonization, and be an ally to the Black community.”
Encouragement for the Black community… “Take care of yourselves during these trying times. Don’t force yourself to educate non-Black people; you shouldn’t have to be a walking encyclopedia on race in order to be respected. Reach out to others when you are in need, and obtain mental health services if you need them. The Counseling and Mental Health Center is still doing phone appointments if you need them. And above all, remember that you are loved and you are important, and we need you here. Us allies stand with you.