This week I was honored to have attended two events in which Alicia Garza, the cofounder of Black Lives Matter, presented at. First, Alicia is dope! She had this chill, honest, and welcoming ambiance that traveled through the Grand Ballroom. In a room of 500 people, I felt as if we were having a direct conversation because of her intense eye contact and constant scanning of the room. It was a lovely, captivating almost three-hour event.
Garza discussed many different topics having to do with her activism, daily challenges, and having a Black Lives Matters presidential debate (now that would be interesting!). Interestingly enough, Garza’s activism began at twelve years old in reproductive justice! She believed that all people, no matter what age, color, race, should have access to contraceptives and receive comprehensive sex education. Can you imagine a twelve year old advocating for this?! She kept up with this activism through college. After she graduated, she began to organize. The Black Lives Matter hashtag began after Garza wrote a blog which she published an ended with “…” And that is when the movement was born.
Few things I didn’t know before attending this event: 1) The Black Lives Matter movement goes past our national borders. There are official chapters in Toronto and Ghana. Many think of Canada as racism-free country. However, many similar issues such as police killings of Black men are occurring as well. For example, a black man, Andrew Loku, was killed by police outside of his apartment after allegedly confronting his upstairs neighbor about loud noise. Another issue in Canada is what they call “carding”. This occurs when a police officer stops a citizen on the street or in a car for no apparent reason. The officer proceeds to ask for identification which they then store in the police database. This act of “carding” disproportionately affects people of color, especially Blacks. 2) The Black Lives Matter movement was started by three queer Black women. This surprised me because in a movement where the main focus seems to be spotlighted on Black heterosexual men, three queer Black women pushed the agenda and made the lives of their Black brothers seen. The erasure of contributions can no longer occur. These identities (queer, black, woman) are already disregarded in society but is occurring in the movement too. But this movement asserts that ALL Black lives matter: gay, straight, transgender, light skin, dark skin, young, old, and many more. If we ignore one identity, we’re not being true to the movement.