Celebrating Black History Month

#BLACKLIVESMATTER: The importance of Black Lives Matter and how they honor the lives of the victims, seek justice for them, their families, and the Black community, as a whole.

Trayvon Martin. Mya Hall. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott.

These are the names that Black Lives Matter (BLM) members and supporters want us to remember and to recognize. These are the names of Black folks whose lives were taken from them. In a climate where the society devalues Black lives, the media vilifies victims, and the criminal justice system allows their killers to walk free, Black Lives Matter honors the lives of the victims and seeks justice for them, their families, and the Black community, as a whole.

While Black Lives Matter responds to injustice, it is also a proactive organization, working towards a society in which all Black people can live freely, without being individually or systematically targeted. In 2013, this work began by bringing more awareness with the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, which spells out an idea that should be universally understood but is not. Founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, created a network of chapters that operate with the same intersectional mission in mind: to empower Black communities, to create space for Black leaders that have historically been silenced, specifically those who are women, transgender, queer, undocumented, disabled, etc., and to shape a future where Black people can thrive. In the years since the organization’s inception, organizers and supporters have led marches and protests, had conversations with political leaders, and inspired Black people to continue to fight for true freedom. However, when a Black organization challenges the majority culture, they will be met with opposition.

“In the last six years many of us faced down tanks, rubber bullets, were forced to do jail and prison sentences, have been surveilled, lied on, called terrorists, been given false labels by the FBI, and some of us have lost our lives. These six years have been the most profound six years of my life and the most traumatic and destabilizing six years of my life,” said Co-founder, Patrisse Khan-Cullors.

This is not a fight without obstacles, criticism, or great sacrifice. You can be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement by getting involved with your local chapter. The chapter closest to Eastern’s campus is BLM Philly. You can contact them via email at blacklivesmatterphilly@gmail.com or interact with their social media accounts — they’re active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can also participate in Eastern’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action from February 2nd-8th. If nothing else, I encourage everyone to enter into these spaces with compassion and respect and to use your privilege to create space for Black people to share their experiences when we are ready. This quote by Dorothy Height inspires me to keep pushing for what I and other Black people deserve, and I hope it inspires you as well: “I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom… I want to be remembered as one who tried.”

Sources: Black Lives Matter

by: Jaime Dixon


Courage to be an Ally: How to utilize your privilege to support Black Trans women.

The following article discusses violence, death and subjects that can be potentially triggering.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has released several reports documenting the fatal violence that disproportionately impacts Trans women of color, particularly Black Trans women. The intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unregulated gun access deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and various other needs which create obstacles that put them at risk.  HRC demonstrates how anti-transgender stigma, denial of opportunity and increased risk factors blend to create a culture of violence.

In the 2019 HRC report, at least 22 Trans and/or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by some kind of violence in the United States. All but two were Black. They are often disrespected by the media by the lack of use of their correct pronouns. Due to this, the HRC noted that they “say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported.”

Since 2013, about 111 out of at least 157 Trans and/or gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence have been Black, according to advocacy groups.

I am providing this information because I believe it is important to stay informed. As a white cisgender woman, I will never know the experince of being a Black Trans woman. With my identity comes the privilege of not being exposed to many hardships in addition to oppressive systems. During my time at Eastern, I have been taught time and time again to think about justice. I have been told to have courage and I have reflected on what exactly that means. I think a big part of having courage is using your own privilege to help others pursue justice. I also believe that as a Christain community, if we ignore the plight of Black Trans women, we are not following Christ.

I think often about this quote in Marie Claire from Roxane Gay, the author of Bad Feminist: “Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it’s like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity. We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice.”

I am writing this because I believe that as Christians, we have a responsibility to advocate for social justice, especially if we have privilege. We can do this in several ways. First, by listening. You do not try to steer their narrative. You help support by hearing and listening to their stories. Through this, you can start to become educated on particular issues. However, if there are cracks in your knowledge, It is not the responsibility of Black Trans women to fill them.

Seek out the answers to your own questions. Do the research. Use the information you learn to educate others. If you come from a privileged group, use your newfound knowledge to reach privileged populations who ignore the voices of Black Trans women. Speak up about their rights even when they’re not in the room. Have courage to risk your unearned privilege. Black Trans women do not have the ability to choose.

Support legal protections for Black Trans women and donate to Black-Trans-led organizations like TGI Justice Project, SNAP CO, BreakOUT, TAKE, GLITS Inc, Transgenders in Florida Prisons (TIFP), Marsha P. Johnson Leadership Institute, Kween Culture, New World Dysorder, St.James Infirmary, TAJA’s Coalition, Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, Black Trans Media and Trans(forming).

Now ask yourself: Do you have the courage to take action?

Sources: CNN, Human Rights Campaign, Mashable, Marie Claire, and TGI Justice

by: Nicole Markert

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