Is it still an honor?

It’s been 13 days since ABC agents brutalized a fellow black uva student, Martese, on the corner. In the days immediately following I couldn’t articulate my feelings. I was angry, I was sad, and  I was hurt all the same time. I saw the picture of Martese laying on the corner, a space I frequent often, covered in his own blood calling out in pain and my heart went to him, his mother, to my fellow students and to my little brother. See I was shocked, not because I thought incidents like this didn’t happen. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and the countless bodies lost to police brutality told me that wasn’t true, so why was I surprised? See something changes when its in your own backyard it shakes you, not the possibility- I knew it was possible and I never thought UVA was immune from racism or overzealous officers–the response from your community–or at least what you considered to be your community shocks you.

**Now allow me a a brief aside to mention that I have never been prouder of the black student body at UVA and many allies who came together in efforts to protest, organize and make sure that the powers at be did not brush this “incident” (if you can have the audacity to call it that) under the rug. **

I am set to graduate at UVA this may. I have given the last four years of my life to Mr. Jefferson’s University and I was promised that at the end I would wear The Honors of Honors–I will have graduated from the University of Virginia. I love UVA. I am not blind to its problems, but I loved it nonetheless. So I was shocked, disgusted by the actions of my peers, who demand we “wait for details” –which I do not recall anyone saying when ABC pulled guns on Elizabeth Daley (charge it to privilege I guess). I was disgusted by an administration, who did not once offer the emotional support to its students. The  emotional and mental damage a moment could cause to students, who had the security blanket of UVA ripped from them. Students who by most standards had done everything right reminded that they we are  pariahs in this society, allowed only the scraps of dignity the institution can spare them.

See let UVA spin it, this is just another bad “incident” in UVA’s rough year. Except its not an isolated incident. In fact none of the incidents are isolated, but I digress. If you read the garbage on yik yak you’d lose your mind–you’d be broken hearted because that cowardly bigot, may be sitting next to you or you might read in the cavalier daily that racism is not systematic. So I’m mad I want to scream but then the anger takes over, like anger does and I’m sad, I’m scared, afraid to feel those emotions because then I might become the worst thing–hopeless.

So as the days pass and I prepare for graduation, I’m left in a state of confusion. Do I love this place? Can this place love me? As my peers and I work to challenge the system to bring attention to long-standing issues to the forefront, in the back of my mind is my younger brother. See its not the lack of an email or the sham law enforcement panel (PR work at its best) that hurts that angers me, its the lack of empathy, the insensitivity. Even if you are privileged enough to never know the realities of racism, are we not people? Can I and the other black bodies have to always just to why we do not deserve your brutalization, the attacks.

James Baldwin once said, “to be negro in this county and to be relatively conscious is to be in rage almost all the time.” Was I always conscious? I like to think so, but distance provides comfort. The rage I could understand, I expected, it was its manifestation as sadness that shakes me still. See I said before I love UVA, but I now I have work to do–along with me peers–to ensure that when I graduated and all the brown bodies that follow can truly call it an honor.

 

America Without social media

I feel like if America didn’t have social medias like we do today, it would come with a lot of positives and negatives. One thing that would definitely make a big impact on today’s society is the how easy and quick we can see things going on around the world that aren’t “in our own backyard”. Social media has its own story out before the news reporters do. People find out a lot of things through Twitter and Instagram. It is very essential to me because I’m a college student without cable, so the news that I do find out about is usually through mainstream social medias like Twitter and Instagram. Could you imagine a family member being lost and not being able to put up a post about them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram letting people know that this person is missing and who to contact if you happen to run across them or stay on the lookout for such and such. Things would be much harder. That also goes hand and hand with advertising for businesses. There are so many people that inbox me on twitter asking me to listen to their music to try and broadcast themselves or put themselves on the map by not only word of mouth, but maybe by how many people they get to actually listen to their stuff and give them feedback on a social media. The positive affects of these social medias we have, is that there are no limitations to the people you can come in contact with on them. You can end up talking to somebody no only outside of your state, but they could be in another continent, country, basically any part of the world. This luxury we have can be taken advantage of for businesses and to faster relay messages and to let other countries and people what may be going on in your neck of the woods.

How I feel on Campus

Well as we have discussed in class, Donta pretty much spoke for a lot of us when he said that he doesn’t feel apart of this University and that we don’t feel welcomed here. Even though I know I’m getting the same education as all of the other regular students, I feel like 1. because I’m an athlete and 2. because I’m black, people look at me like I’m less of a person or student here at this University. I get stereotyped because of the things I wear, the way I talk, the way I walk, I have dreads and because of what I believe. Not only am I an African American student here, but I’m Muslim too. I’m sure you can think of all types of stereotypical shit to say to a Muslim. I don’t really feel like at home, when I’m in my dorm whether I have things that you think would give it that feeling or not. People seem intimidated by me because of my appearance and my athletic status. People think I’m just supposed to be some ignorant ass whole without trying to get to know me for who I really am. People here aren’t all that welcoming. With me being who I am, I feel like I’m under a stronger microscope than some regular white girl that is a student on this campus. The police around the University stereotype and racial profile also. I was with one of my teammates after we left the McCue, and he was dropping me off at dorms, the officer thought that we were just visitors of someone who attended the school and wasn’t from around here, not know we played for the football team here. After everything happened with Martese a few weeks ago, it just made me feel even more uncomfortable being here. I honestly don’t think there will be a point in time that I actually will feel like I’m apart of this school regardless of reality. I haven’t felt comfortable since I got here. Things need to change.

Never Backing Down

This academic year has been tough. I think many people our age are facing the cold reality of what it really means to be an American–to be a person endowed with inalienable rights. These words are the foundation of this nation, and for many of us they unfortunately feel like empty promises. That is why we say “black lives matter” , that is why we chanted “if we don’t get it, shut it down”; because the tragic stories of the lost lives of young American black boys that we have mourned over are not isolated. They happen quiet often, and it has become increasingly difficult to hide them or silence them. In the face of such a grave threat against the wellbeing of one of our own innocent peers, it was crucial that we stand up in a demonstration of our outrage and disbelief. We fight for equality within a place that makes no such space for us because it holds onto its dear old traditions. For many of us, recent events were just the straw that broke the camel’s back. What was previously a somewhat divided black community, with its own social associations and student groups suddenly came together due to this all too familiar set of tragic circumstances. These past couple of days have been a time of healing, love, and to some extent, reconciliation. This is a step in the right direction and  needs to continue in a sustained manner so that it may tackle the ills of our community.

What we have long known about the dynamic of the relationship between Charlottesville’s affluent white citizenry and those impacted deeply by its alarmingly high 25% poverty rate is just one instance of the larger American problem of inequality and disproportionate policing. We have also long known that the “pristine” traditional corner is a highly protected space that aims to serve the UVA student population. For this reason, we must reach out, we must continue to demand change, and choose to never be complacent in the face of politically correct terms like equality, fairness, and access, which don’t apply to everyone.

America Without Social Media

Social media has changed the ways of America in many different aspects. It has had both positive and negative influences on society. The quickness and easy access to communicate with other people in distant areas has been one of the best outcomes of social media. In recent history, we have seen how it was able to aid those families who were separated from each other due to Hurricane Katrina. Without social media they would have had no way to find and communicate with one another to know of their conditions, whereabouts, and any other information needed after the devastating natural disaster. Without social media, many of these families would still be uncertain of a loved ones location or even if they had survived the hurricane. Another way social media has benefitted society is by being able to be a useful tool in business and advertisement. Many businesses have begun to use social websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to advertise their products or services nationwide and extremely quick opposed to the previous word of mouth, print ads, and other non-social media ways. On the other hand, social media has definitely had its negative effects on society. People have become less social and lost basic skills and comfortability to interact with one another in person because of social media. It is as if online some feel more comfortable expressing certain things than in real life. Also, these social websites somewhat create a sense of protection for people, they become more bold and mean than they could ever be in person. This is a contributing factor to the increase of cyber bullying. I cannot count how many videos of someone being embarrassed or beat up and the posts talking about someone else in a horrible way. It is like our youth uses social media as a new battle ground.

Malcolm X

The film Malcolm X explores the life of political activist Malcolm Little AKA El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz or simply Malcolm X. The movie, although it does mix up some factors of his life, is overall very accurate and does little to stray from reality. It tends to mix up times and add clarification to events that did not have clarification before such as his involvement with drugs and the lynching of his uncle. What I really liked about the film is that although this parts of reality were skewed, it did not take away from the political and social message that the film was trying to portray. It really gave a sense of who Malcolm X really was.  In regard to art, the film is definitely a piece of art that conveyed raw emotion behind it. It was hard to watch this film without being overcome with emotion. The dramatization of his life conveyed an artsy message with the intent to have people emotionally connect with Malcolm X rather than just hold him to the standard of a vapid political leader. It gave Malcolm character and a substantial basis for his actions. It made him a real person, which is what the film seemed to want to convey from its very start.  In regard to politics, the film made several political statements. It connected Malcolm to the death of John F. Kennedy and his contributions to making America more comfortable for Black Americans. It also intertwined this with Malcolm’s involvement and subsequent self-removal from the Nation of Islam. It tied in the use of the media and how media does effectively help social and political change. Malcolm simply used his voice and had it echo through from people to realize his message. He is an example of an era of bloggers outside of the 2000s and this modern era of the technological generation.  The film evokes social change by showing the changing dynamic of whites and blacks in America. It gives a different perspective than the peaceful Martin Luther King. It shows how more radical black leaders were able to effectively spark change in America and almost shows them as a necessity for the movement.  The movie in itself shows how Malcolm X became a point of admiration for both whites and blacks despite his radicalized views, which would subsequently change America and have him held to the standard of one of the most important Civil Rights Leaders in America. The film really personalized Malcolm’s social life and political opinions and it ties all of this perfectly into a point of artistic and political expression despite the very minimal strays from reality. The final scene that depicts the African American children idolizing Malcolm tie in the final message of the film. It is that Malcolm X is a man to be admired. He is a man that fought and died for change in America and his legacy should and will live on. It also show that we must fight for freedom by any means necessary.

picture Written By: Mariatu Hamid Mansaray

How I Feel

I feel liberated. I know that is not the typical response, but I am liberated. I am liberated because I refuse to internalize oppression. I refuse to feel the repercussions of my skin, my body, and my culture in this society. I hate that this happened to my peer. I hate that this happens to anyone. I hate that this happens in our society, but I feel liberated because I have seen my community come together. I have seen what we can to do support one another. I can see the fire within us. I know that we can work together and effect change. I also feel very sad. I’m sad because I have expectations for faculty and students that are seemingly not affected by what happened to Martese. I am frustrated by the overwhelming attitude of the majority of students who are able to detach themselves from what is going on and study in the library for an upcoming exam. I am not jealous that I cannot be academically productive. I am frustrated that people do not realize the importance of expressing levels of compassion in order for everyone to be productive members of this community. I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of being expected to use my platform as a black woman to tell people about issues that everyone has a say in. This is not a black issue; this is a human rights issue. I am tired of this being an issue. But although I may be physically and mentally exhausted, my spirits are high. For the first time in my four years at the University of Virginia, I feel like I am a part of a movement that I am personally invested in. I recognize that this is a movement that is much bigger than me and my responsibility is not only to myself but also to others in the present moment and in the future. In the words of James Baldwin, “If we had not loved each other, none of us would have survived.”

I’m tired.

I’m tired. Im not the type to romanticize struggle so when I say “this is not what I want to be doing,” please believe me. This is not fun. This is not enjoyable. This is necessary. I feel like I am fighting for my life because I see a larger picture. I recognize the many intersections of race, class and gender of the “incident” that occurred on The Corner a week ago. I see how the current culture of UVa is simply a reflection of the toxic society that we are all a part of. I know that my fight is beyond UVa, but I know that UVa is an institution that needs someone to fight against it. I’m not sure if UVa is worth my energy but I am positive that the people that marched, protested, planned alongside me since all of this began, is definitely worth my energy. I’m not sure what will come out of this particular struggle, but seeing Black people at UVa come together and mobilize for a cause has touched me in a very special way. At the beginning of this semester my biggest critique of this university was a lack of Black community. I’m a Black Woman. I am accustomed to combating or simply surviving in a racist environment. I am not accustomed to fighting for survival without the support of other Black people. I was prepared to leave this place because I did not think I had anything to stay and fight for. Now that I can walk these grounds and see Black people engage in conversation, smile and wave at each other, acknowledge each other consistently…now that I can see a Black community here, i feel as if I have something to stay for. So, to my fellow Black students, no matter the negative experiences you still may have here, no matter the outcome of this particular fight, know that you have accomplished something to be proud of. You have forged a community and grown closer and stronger during a time that could have broken you. Be proud.