Sunday, January 24, 2021

Letter to the editor: Student encourages well-informed thoughts

It is evident from the column “NFL players sit in spotlight” that there is a major disconnect in what Black Lives Matter means.

Let’s begin by defining it: the Black Lives Matter movement focuses on bringing awareness to the public about the daily targeting and killing of black people in our nation, finding a solution to ending racial profiling and police brutality and ultimately, preserving the lives of black people in our community.

That being said, we get it, all lives do matter. Of course. However, when we say “Black Lives Matter,” we are saying that in America, we need to be recognized. Our lives have not mattered to the media, the government and our neighbors.

Back in July, President Obama said: “[Black Lives Matter] simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability that needs to be addressed.”

When you say “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter,” you are overshadowing the attempts the black community has made to have their voices heard. You are also dismissing the fact that black lives are being primarily targeted and killed at the hands of corrupt police officers.

I digress. The aforementioned column struggled with finding a stance. Was this about being a public role model? Sticking to tradition? Making a change but being quiet about it? Teaching kids that it’s better to conform than to take a stand?

Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem. Can you blame him? When your rights as a law-abiding American are violated on a daily basis? When attempts to place restrictions on guns are stagnant? When your newsfeed is filled with hashtags of deceased black lives? When your skin tone and stereotypes decide your fate in America? Can you blame him for not wanting to stand for the National Anthem? We love America, but does America love black lives?

The column said: “If you don’t like what is happening in the country or think the country is disrespecting you, then do something about it. But do it on your own time, not when millions of people are watching.”

Au contraire, Kaepernick and other public figures are using their wealth and privilege as a platform to address change. Kaepernick’s decision not to stand has sparked a much-needed conversation on patriotism, bigotry and police brutality. Are protests in colleges and cities not part of “doing something about it?” Despite the lack of media coverage, there are protests and changes being made.

What has SUNY Plattsburgh done to make a change? Well, we have multicultural clubs and organizations dedicated to educating others about sociopolitical issues. We have Black Onyx: The Black Student Union, Fuerza: The Black and Latino Student Union, O.W.E: Organization for Women of Ethnicity, African Unity, the list goes on.

Just this year, I’ve gone to a vigil and attended several discussions on how we can bridge the gap between Plattsburgh students and the Plattsburgh community. We may not have thousands of supporters like Kaepernick, but we are working towards finding solutions.

The resources to learn are all here. It just comes down to actually wanting to learn more and striving to use these resources to not only make stronger arguments, but to also become a better individual. Join us, don’t reprimand us.

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