Immediately following the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in 2012, social media erupted with #BlackLivesMatter, and the pace hasn’t slowed much since. In fact, it has grown from a mere hashtag to become a full-fledged national activism movement.
#BlackLivesMatter is typically invoked when talking about matters of police brutality. However, according to the official website, “we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.”
The #BlackLivesMatter movement does not have a chapter in Oklahoma. The closest one is in Austin, Texas.
The movement has been challenged by some organizations because it focuses heavily on straight cis gendered Black males and, some say, has marginalized other groups.
The movement has since accommodated those groups saying on their official website, “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”
Retaliation campaigns have also emerged, notably the #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter movements.
Tulsa has had a particularly sad history in regards to race relations and police brutality. According to the records Alfred L. Brophy collected for his book Reconstructing the Dreamland, the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 were abetted in a large part by the Tulsa police force who deputized white mobs to capture black citizens and assist in looting and burning their homes and businesses.
President Steadman Upham gave his own remarks regarding racism on TU campus in an email he distributed last week as a response to protests at the University of Missouri.
“Racial injustice and other forms of discrimination are antithetical to the values of a free and open university, and to a campus culture that values and respects each member of its community,” Upham said.
“The University of Tulsa remains committed to an environment of open expression and robust dialogue within the bounds of individual responsibility, civility, and mutual respect,” he continued.
It’s not only President Upham who feels our university should be a place of openness and respect. Graphic design senior Lydia Nathan urged, “There needs to be a broader awareness of police brutality.”
“Racism is systemic in our society and we should do whatever we can to make that apparent in our society,” said freshman Maggie Brooks
Junior Tony Burks said, “I think it stands not only for black lives but all lives matter. I am totally on board with that.”
A diversity of opinions exist about this difficult issue, but as Freshman Cece Johnson said, “I think it’s important to talk about, even if people are uncomfortable talking about it.”
Even though there is not a local chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, if you are interested in getting involved in a civil rights campaign try reaching out to the Association of Black Collegians here on campus and doing what you can to further the discussion of racism still present in America.