'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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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Big Slick KC: The Importance Behind Celebrities Coming Together in Kansas City

This annual event is one of my favorite things to attend, and it's the 10th year, so it deserves recognition.

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Every year since 2010, Big Slick KC has been a huge event held in Kansas City, Missouri, where celebrities from our favorite shows and movies come together for one weekend to raise money for Children's Mercy Hospital.

The hosts of Big Slick are none other than Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, and David Koechner. Every year, they invite around 40 celebrities to participate in the weekend's events.

This year had some big names like Selena Gomez, Olivia Wilde, Zachary Levi, Haley Joel Osment, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and many more. Each year they try to bring in new people, while also having some Big Slick veterans return.

The busy and wonderful weekend starts out with the celebrities all coming in and visiting the children at Children's Mercy Hospital, spending time with them and taking pictures. I think it's amazing how they take the time to actually get to know some of the kids that they are raising the money for.

After that, the celebrities head to Kauffman Stadium, break up into two teams, and face-off in a not-so-serious softball game before the Royals game. Each celebrity gets their own signature Royals jersey and they play a few innings. They also come out again and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh-inning stretch.

The next morning, the celebrities all make their way to the Pinstripes bowling alley in Overland Park, where they are greeted by hundreds of awaiting fans.

After the children of Children's Mercy are introduced and walk along the red carpet with their parents, the celebrities follow, taking pictures and signing autographs along the way. They head inside and bowl with the children from the hospital.

That night, the celebrities all come together one last time to host a huge party, this year it was at the Sprint Center, where they all just perform and have a good time. They also host an auction where some pretty cool items and opportunities are auctioned off.

Besides just being a fun event to attend and a good way to see some of your favorite celebrities up close, Big Slick is just so important because of its cause.

This year, Big Slick KC raised around $2.5 million for Children's Mercy Hospital. That brings the total to over $10 million that Big Slick has raised since 2010.

This amazing weekend is always so much fun, not just because some big stars come to a fly over state, but because of the children that they are raising the money for. The hosts and the celebrities that attend all care so much about the cause, and they make a great weekend out of it for anyone who attends.

I'm already looking forward to next year's exciting weekend.

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