This is a Movement,
Not a Moment
by Maya H.
In 2013, Black Lives Matter was founded as an activist movement advocating for anti-racism after the devastating murder of Trayvon Martin. Since then, the media has displayed numerous cases of police brutality on African Americans. It has been 6 years since the founding of this movement and America has not changed its system. Now, in 2020, it is clear that police funding is more important than investing in American education, healthcare, and employment. This blog is my reaction, as a black woman, to the protests that have now escalated to global attention.
On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officers murdered George Floyd. He was a 46-year old African American son, brother, and dad trying to start a new life in Minneapolis. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, George Floyd could not breathe and called out for his mother to save him without remorse from his murderers. Two of the officers that stood by and allowed Derek Chauvin to kneel on Floyd's neck posted bail and walked free. If the other two imprisoned officers accumulate enough funds, the system will pardon them as well. However, George Floyd will never get his life back.
His death devastated a lot of people around the world, including me.
I didn't particularly appreciate how bystanders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement started the notion that Floyd's death was the spark of the movement. However, advocating for the importance and equality
of African Americans did not just begin in 2020. There have numerous police brutality cases that BLM stood up for, but George Floyd gave us the power of our voices globally.
During the time of the protests, Atlanta's mayor had recently lifted the lockdown due to COVID-19. I was nervous about participating in the fight to defund the police and get justice for not only George's murders but the other African Americans, who were silenced by the negligence of the police departments. Living in a household with other people, I knew I was putting them at risk by attending the marches, so I didn't go. I was posting daily on all social media platforms about different petitions to sign, where the protests were held, educating people about defunding the police, etc. I was doing all that I could to support my people, but I still felt powerless.
In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered a curfew for all residents of the city at 9 pm. On the first night of the curfew, I didn't get the alert until 15 minutes after the lockdown started, which was similar for many people according to social media. Two students from the Atlanta University Center (AUC) were headed home, and the Atlanta Police Department forcibly removed them from their car, tased, and arrested them for being out past curfew. Being that I am a part of the AUC, I was outraged. I didn't want to be voiceless anymore. I didn't care that people were getting detained. I didn't care that police violated protestors. Sadly, I didn't care about COVID. I just wanted/needed to fight for my people, friends, brother, family, and myself because what police were doing to citizens of this country was heartless.
The day I went to the protest, I was nervous. I prepared everything –
bottled waters, safety goggles, a mask, hand sanitizer, and food, but nothing can ready you for when something goes wrong. My cousins and I were some of the first people at Centennial Olympic Park, ready to take on whoever. It was
It was only about 2:30 pm, and the line-up/walk didn't start until 5:00 pm. Therefore, it was a lot of yelling and chanting: "ALL LIVES WON'T MATTER UNTIL BLACK LIVES MATTER" and "NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, NO RACIST POLICE." Then the police came, cleared the intersection, and lined-up like we were about to go to war. We stood there facing them, trying to make them understand that they are not protecting us. They are the problem. Some of them talked to the protesters and nodded their heads in agreement with what they were saying. Other officers stood there like soldiers as if their humanity left when they put on that uniform.
The most compelling moment of the protest was when we all kneeled in silence in memory of all who lost their lives to police brutality. There were over 200 people, yet you could almost hear a pin drop. I think I felt the most powerful at that moment because now they could listen to us. The standoff lasted for about an hour before we started marching through Atlanta's midtown. We walked for a long time, continuing our chants and listening to music. There were people in their cars handing out food and drinks so that no one wouldn't pass out. A first-aid man walked around with a huge army bag full of gauges, milk, bandages, and anything he needed to care for an injured person. There were busloads of people riding with the marches in solidarity. These were images that the media wasn't portraying. They captured all the moments with the police tear-gassing and beating people, but they did picture the people at the protests that were helping out.
I am disappointed that after 400 years, African Americans are still fighting for the right to live in America. Protests are happening daily around the world, and we will continue battling for equality and justice. I hope our kids will not have the opportunity to protest and march against their oppressors in the future because I want the present work to pay off for generations to come. Please remember those who lost their lives because of the carelessness of this nation. Click the link to educate yourself about the ways you can take action Black Lives Matter Movement.
Here are a few petitions that you can sign to support those who have not been served justice:
by Maya H.
When and how did I react to find out my college was closing down because of COVID-19?
I attend Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. I heard about COVID-19 around the beginning of February in my Introduction to Public Health class at Morehouse College. During this time, countries were shutting off travel to and from China because they didn’t know how severe the virus was or how people were contracting the disease. My Public Health professor asked the class, “Do you think that government officials should do all of this without knowing the full scope of COVID-19?” Unknowingly, I answered, “No,” because I thought it was some time of racial maltreatment toward Chinese people, and I don’t support racism. However, cases of the virus reached Atlanta at the beginning of March, and it was not about race. Everyone was in danger.
Spelman’s spring break was the second week of March, and the press was informing the public about the virus more still with little to no information about it. In my opinion, it was pointless information because they weren’t telling us how to prevent it yet, but it caused a lot of fear. After my spring break trip, my school extending the break for another week, and if you know my school, we don’t close for ANYTHING. During the extended break, I kept hearing rumors of other colleges not going back to school and cities closing down, and it was somewhat unbelievable until it happened to us. We had a week to pack up our dorms and leave. There was no time to say goodbye to my friends in person or late-night study sessions. There were no longer food runs, store runs, or errands. There was no more seeing my Spelman and Morehouse friends and laughing about nothing. School was over.
Online School and Habits I Picked up:
Online school was terrible for me. Most of my teachers were understanding and gave us extended periods to do our assignments so that we wouldn't overload, but that did not help with my mental state. I have not been home for more than three months since 2018, so it wasn't comfortable adjusting to working from home. Not to mention, there are a lot of personal problems that you avoid while being away from your family, so being in their presence just made it impossible not to go insane. Most of the time, my family forgot I was in school because they did not give me personal space, and they asked me to go places while I was in class. Yes, I had a room with a door, but when you are trying to do an exam/ assignment, it isn't easy trying to stay focused while lying in bed.
I realized I could not allow my mental health to decline while I was home, so I tried picking up skills that I could perfect. I started playing in my makeup more, but I ran out of makeup wipes. I gave up being an MUA when I started having to clean my entire face to correct one mistake. I tried to cook more; however, we eat a lot in this house, so it was difficult finding more meals to make. I tried reading books as I would when I was young, but my attention span matches the span of a fly.
Finally, I started running before my classes to energize and wake myself up for the day. It stuck. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I wasn’t overthinking about something (my life, relationships, or an assignment). I was running for fun and clearing my head of everything, and it truly worked. Even though I’m a cheerleader, I’m lazy, so this habit surprised me! I enjoyed it so much because I would challenge myself monthly to take longer miles than the last month. I know when people hear, “Running clears my mind,” they’re like, “yeah, whatever.” Nevertheless, in all seriousness, if you run, pace yourself, stop thinking about your breathing, and watch how all your thoughts fade away. Try it and see.
During the quarantine, I also started writing for the resource pages and blog pages for The Brains with Beauty Project. As a volunteer, this is something I loved doing during social distancing. The blog posts make me feel like I have people to talk to when I feel the most alone. The resource pages make me feel like I helped people through the research that I would do for myself (i.e., wash day). As a STEM major, I never felt confident in my writing skills. Therefore, this project has taken me out of my comfort zone, which I needed to keep my mind off being locked up (quarantined). Literally, me during blogging talking to myself…
Finally, I tried to maintain a lot of protective hairstyles during this time. I have natural 3C type hair, and I sweat A LOT during my workouts. Thus, it’s tough keeping one hairstyle in for a long time without looking like it’s been in there for months. I have done numerous flat twists, small individuals, rope twist with weave, feed-in braids with extensions, and other protective styles. Playing with different hairdos to maintain the moisture and health took my mind off schoolwork and feeling like I was caged. To learn how to do a twist out, check the Twist Out Tutorial on the beauty page.
Whatever you do during the quarantine, make sure you enjoy it, and it takes your mind off the fact that you are bored. We have all been bored during this time to the point where social media is not enough anymore. Please take breaks from social media and binge-watching shows. Those are great ways to entertain yourself, but it can also exhaust your brain.
Please remember to wear your masks and avoid large crowds! Check out the CDC for updates about COVID-19.
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