'Black Lives Matter Began As A Love Letter To Black People'

'Black Lives Matter Began As A Love Letter To Black People'

Alicia Garza, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, spoke at the University of Richmond last week.
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Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke on Tuesday at the University of Richmond. I was very interested to hear what she would say because of the climate of this campus. A few weeks ago, the opinion article, "#DearWhitePeople stop hiding your racial indifference," was published on The Collegian, and I feel as though it accurately portrays some of the racial inequalities on campus. It's an interesting look into how an an anonymous app allows for students to talk about their thoughts surrounding similar issues about this movement.

Because let's be real: a lot of people on this campus have never been in this sort of situation of living in fear for their lives simply because of the color of their skin. This isn't to say that people on campus haven't faced oppression or that they don't understand the issue (though I do think that's a prevalent issue), but they've never faced the circumstances Garza was talking about. And I'll be honest, neither have I. I face white privilege every day, but I'm trying to understand it more clearly on a societal level. But based on some of the interactions I've had at Richmond, I think it can be said that there are many who don't even try to understand the privilege they have and are quick to make assumptions about movements protecting basic human rights.

I was interested as to what Garza would say because of the environment she was entering. Would she acknowledge that she was at a school stereotyped as 'rich white kids'? Would students who were required to go to the event protest and argue, similarly to how they did when we had a peaceful protest on campus in the fall regarding the Black Lives Matter movement? Would Garza talk about her personal experience or try to push the movement onto those who weren't already a part of it?

I came in as an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and left even more a fan. Garza held herself as soft-spoken, passionate, but not loud, not preachy, and the ultimate message she promoted was one of love. How could you argue with love?

Her words expressed a sense of peace and love for all and acknowledged the classic arguments she had heard through her time as a part of this movement.

She spoke about how hashtags don't start movements, people do.

"There's no way I could've started this by myself. You know why? Because black people have been struggling since 1619," she said.

She said the project began as a "love letter" to black people. A simple recognition that an adult had killed a child and got away with it. She spoke calmly and simply.

"The project was a way to say 'Black folks, we're good.'

"We're not problems to be fixed or eliminated.

"It doesn't matter if you sag your pants or wear them around your waist, you are still worthy," she said.

"Of life. Of deserving to live and not live in fear of being killed based on the color of your skin.

"Somehow we've gotten to a place where we shoot first and ask questions later," she said in reference to that we search for reasons why Trayvon Martin died instead of why a man killed him for no apparent reason and faced no penalties.

I sat in the audience, smiling not because any of this was good. It was sad beyond belief, but I hoped that something would hit a nerve with those in the audience that came in skeptical of the movement and wanting to doubt her. I smiled because hopefully, this would be the first step in an open dialogue at the University of Richmond.

Because so often, the space for an open dialogue is what's needed, which was actually the purpose for the origins of Black Lives Matter.

"All lives do, in fact, matter," Garza said, "We fight like hell to make sure they matter in practice.

"We just spoke from our hearts. From our experiences with black death.

"We wanted to create space to tell our own stories on our own terms.

"You can't tweet your way to power-- it's a consolidation of individual efforts where we grappled with our real contradictions as people."

The acknowledgment that the redundant argument "all lives matter" was powerful and real. It was applicable to our campus.

"Right now, some lives matter more than others," Garza said.

While some feel that the movement is accusatory, Garza emphasized that "White supremacy isn't to be inflammatory. It is to name the disease that is killing every single one of us, just in different ways."

I sat in amazement at her eloquence as she spoke about love for all. She spoke about the need for equal pay not just for women, who make 78 cents on the dollar to men, but for black women who make 64 cents. And Latinos make 58 cents, and it's even fewer for indigenous women or trans women. Arguments that surround the Black Lives Matter movement consist of illogical thoughts that it's only for black people or that it's full of violence or that it's putting the lives of black people ahead of others.

To which I'd like to reiterate Garza's words, "We are not separating people. ... Not a movement for black people, it's for all of us to get right."

Black Lives Matter is about love and equality for all. It's about acknowledging that white privilege exists and that black people face problems none of us will ever be able to understand on a personal level, but fighting to make sure we're not a part of the problem, but contributing to the awareness of this privilege and to the solution. It's about stepping outside of your comfort zone and understanding the societal system that exists in our favor. It's about not feeling as though you're being accused, but that you're a part of something that was taught to you since you were young and changing from it. It's understanding that we are part of a disease that favors white people and working to change it.

We are all ignorant to some of these issues, but instead of arguing against our ignorance, let's try to solve some of the ignorance.

It's about working to be a part of this "love letter."

Cover Image Credit: thegoodfight.fm

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How to Boost Minority Voices on College Campuses

An ideal college campus has a healthy dose of diversity that reflects the real world

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An ideal college campus has a healthy dose of diversity that reflects the real world. Unfortunately, due to cost of attendance and geographical location, most college campuses have a skewed population. Minority students sometimes struggle to feel welcome on campus – which may become detrimental to their mental, academic, and physical well-being. Non-minority students should help boost their voices on campus by understanding the social movements in which minority students follow and the issues these movements endorse. Here are two examples of very successful programs involving college students:

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter formed following the murder of the black, unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. On February 26th, 2012, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, called 911 to report Martin's 'suspicious activity' before fatally shooting him. Uncovered evidence suggested that Zimmerman acted because he was wary of Martin's race – and not the actual threat of criminal activity. The Black Lives Matter movement gained further traction after the distressing murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Brown was shot numerous times by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests erupted in Ferguson and across the United States – with followers that represent all intersections of gender, ability, citizenship and experience. "[They] are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise."

The echoes of the Black Lives Matter message left an imprint on the University of Missouri football team and other student organizations, who all called for the Mizzou President Tim Wolfe's resignation. This protest followed inaction of school leaders when dealing with racial issues on campus. The football team, with their coaches' support, refused to play or practice until Wolfe stepped down. The refusal to play games could have cost the university $1 million in cancellation fees. The Missouri football team showed immense courage – risking their scholarships, academic standing, and image on a national level for a controversial but necessary cause.


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#Blacklivesmatter

Cripple Punk

Cripple Punk (or C-Punk for those uncomfortable using the slur) is a movement by the physically disabled, for the physically disabled. It was accidentally created by Tumblr user @Crpl-Pnk, or Tai/Tyler, who posted a grunge-style selfie with a cane and the words 'Cripple Punk' in the caption. The picture went viral, and so did the rejection of stereotypes. Tyler said Cripple Punk is here for the bitter cripple and the un-inspirational cripple –fighting the idea that all cripples must be wonderful people, all the time.

The movement respects all intersections of race, gender, culture, sexual/romantic orientation, size, intersex status, mental illness, neurodivergent, and survivor status. Cripple Punk recognizes that there is no universal disabled experience, and encourages followers to understand unfamiliar experiences. Participating in the activism is not conditional on things like what kind of mobility aids one uses, or how much one can 'function.' One goal of the movement is to fight internalized ableism (feelings of internalized discrimination of disabilities produced by society) They also strive to empower those currently struggling to own their disabled identity through body positivity. This allows the community to choose how they are seen, and to be unapologetically disabled.

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It is not unusual as a disabled person to feel isolated from others who share your experiences. The Internet has created a space to seek out others with similar experiences, learn from each other, and motivate each other. This online community is incredibly important, as it is often difficult for disabled people to participate in typical protests. Many cannot march because of the nature of their conditions, or the unfortunate reality that many protests are still inaccessible.


Simple ways to amplify minority voices

Following these movements is perhaps the easiest way to show support, whether it be by attending events, retweeting hashtags, or signing petitions. Rally for a more diverse faculty, multicultural centers, and more accessible counseling or tutoring services for minority students. Elect to take an ethic studies or diversity course to listen and understand other worldviews— this may be the first time you are faced with perspectives different from your own. Seek to understand the history of your institution and its potential shortcomings and rally for change with your peers whenever possible. Make your college a place that everyone would want to attend; your campus diversity starts with encouragement.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JHrNFqwBbig

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