Statements On the Setbacks and Successes of the Black Lives Matter Campaign On Campus
by Simone Hunter-Hobson on Friday, May 22nd, 2015
A few weeks ago, students came together to create posters in honor of Freddie Gray and the countless other black lives lost to police brutality. Unfortunately, one student witnessed someone stick one of these posters in a tree. To see such disrespect, not only towards the hard work of ourselves and our peers, but also to the lives of the deceased was disheartening to say the least. Yet to many it was not shocking. When students have the audacity to step over and on their peers during a die-in, it is of little surprise that someone would show such disregard to our posters.
How does one define a movement’s success? In my opinion, the movement, Black Lives Matter, should not have to pass this standard of success in the Milton community…In other words, I should not have to convince the Milton community that the basic human rights of blacks should be valued; such a statement should already be guaranteed as a valid truth. Nonetheless, given the overwhelming backlash towards this campaign, I know that it is my duty to fight for my people’s rights. I am not going to allow any “good press, bad press” or “negative feedback” to stand in the way of the movement that matters to so many lives.
To a certain extent, yes, I think that the negative feedback is beneficial to the movement. Let me explain why… If Milton has so many students battling this movement, what does that say about the Milton community? Any ‘negative feedback’ speaks volumes and simply proves our point: that Milton needs to be aware of social issues that relate to some students’ lives. The negativity adds fuel to the movement’s fire; it keeps us on our toes and ready to continue the work towards justice. When someone claims that Milton is a place of acceptance with no racial tension in to the community, I can only disagree. The disgusting actions of throwing the Freddie Grey poster in the tree, slandering the movement in the papers, and tweeting ignorant comments against the movement show what is so wrong with this statement. When I witness these acts, I am not mad; I simply tell myself that these acts are the reason why the movement must continue to remain present on campus. I am not discouraged; I am only more motivated…
I think that everything we have done in the movement has been carefully thought out. For example, before we decided to have a campus protest, the die in, or the portraits, we ask ourselves this question: How will this tactic positively change the movement? In particular, the weekly art that is displayed in the Student Center is very powerful, because the art does not explicitly say the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. When people see that little black girl or that black protester in a gas mask, the community still automatically knows that the movement is not over. My goal for next year is to keep the momentum going; we cannot afford to give up now. Regardless of whether or not the whole school participates in these activities, we still continue to do what we need to do for positive change.
In terms of next year, I am hoping that the school will allow us to actually participate in effective conversations about the movement. I am honestly frustrated with the school’s fear of speaking up. Instead of writing articles and canceling the Onyx-Conservative Club meetings, we, as the school community, need to work on ways to ahave these conversations. I am tired of being silenced; real change will happen only with the mutual participation of all individuals in the community.
To the people who have disrespected the movement, I would just like to honestly say thank you. I would also suggest for you to do some soul searching; look deeply within yourself and ask why you so strongly oppose this movement. Why do you not support the lives of your black friends or the lives of the black artists whose music you listen to constantly? Don’t let that hatred sit in the pit of your stomach. I hope you find the kindness within your heart to support our basic human rights. Thanks to you, I am wiser and resilient. The movement is stronger because you have motivated us to keep up the fight.
To say that police brutality does not impact your lives or others around you is a privilege because despite what some people may believe, the issue hits home for many Milton Academy students. Therefore, the issue is not something we choose to be affected by; it’s our reality. Bringing the Black Lives Matter campaign to Milton was a way for students of color and allies to share their concern in an environment where their voices can go unheard.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7070