By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer
To close off Black History Month, there was a Black Lives Matter (BLM) panel held in the Library Grand reading room on Tuesday, February 27. The panelists included Eric James, a crime and justice junior, Eric Larson, Assistant Crime and Justice Professor, Alexandra Moniz, Enrollment Systems Coordinator, and Kendra Hicks, director of radical philanthropy.
The panel included a brief history of the movement, why it is necessary, and what the movement is involved with that the press often does not highlight.
The panel began with a student film recognizing figures hardly brought up by the media: the women of Black Lives Matter. The film focused on the women who have been struggling for equality, as well as the women who have been killed without their murderers being brought to justice.
It showed the discourse between the BLM we see on the news and how BLM needs to be portrayed.
Following this was a discussion on the origins of Black Lives Matter. BLM was officially created after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2012 but did not gain global traction until the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.
Historically, Black Liberation movements have not been intersexual until BLM, and it is the first major Black liberation movement to have a substantial women‘s advocacy presence.
Since its global presence, BLM has organized forty chapters around the globe, all fighting for protection against violence, as well as economic justice.
The panel soon got onto the discussion of the nature of BLM, and, more specifically, if BLM is violent as the media portrays it, or if it is nonlethal as they officially state.
Panelist Kendra Hicks explained “individuals believe in violent resistance, but BLM is nonviolent,“ following this, James points out that the media has a way of portraying radicals, as peaceful as they may be, as violent.
“Martin Luther King was perceived as violent before they killed him. Whenever you resist the system it will be categorized as violent.”
BLM is acting well within their right to protest, and as they are literally fighting for their lives, they are being labeled as protestors are often labeled: violent thugs.
The panel really took off following Moniz’s explanation on the Black Lives Matter flag on Campus.
As it turns out, UMass Dartmouth was the third institution to put up the Black Lives Matter flag.
Unfortunately, that did not last, as the flag remained up for three days and was promptly taken back down.
Junior panelist Eric James had a lot to say on this matter, as he was livid with the flag coming down.
“I’m not asking you to put up the flag for three days and take it down. I’m asking you to tell me where you stand.”
James says he would rather the school not even make an attempt than make an attempt so effortlessly.
The overall opinion of the room was that the flag going up for three days was more of a slap in the face than the flag not going up at all.
James goes on say that “UMass Dartmouth is trying to stay neutral, and MLK said you can‘t be neutral in the fight against oppression.”