Students of ODA Recount Their Involvement in Black Lives Matter Protests


Credit: The ODA Bolt Media

Madeline Kwan and Samantha Malcolm

Editorial: Our View

Amidst a global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the worldwide community has been fighting another battle on the social and political front: the relentless demand for racial justice and the institution of anti-racist policies.

Upon the emergence of a series of videotaped instances of mistreatment and brutality against members of the Black community, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken the global community by storm, dominating headlines and the focus of humanitarians and social/political activists.

These widely-publicized instances of police brutality that resulted in the deaths of Black Americans, such as Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, have been met with outrage and the revival of a movement demanding the end of police brutality that has perpetually plagued Black communities. For many, the movement has re-vitalized the meaning and importance of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s that aimed to demolish racial discrimination and gain equal legal rights for people of color.

Today, civil rights advocates and members of the community have organized their resistance in the form of peaceful protests and demonstrations in the streets of our cities. Activists have circulated petitions demanding the incarceration of the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes, the defunding of police departments, and the implementation of anti-racist government policies. Supporters have also solicited donations to funds like The Bail Project and Black Visions Collective.

From late May to the present day, protests have expanded outwards from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the location of George Floyd’s death, to encompass cities all across the nation and in over 60 countries.

Some of these peaceful protestors are members of our own Out-of-Door Academy community. Addie McGuire ’21 and Hilton Hudson ’22 share how the BLM movement and demands for racial justice inspired their participation.

While McGuire and Hudson both had a similar reason for participating in BLM protests, their journeys started at different places. 

For McGuire, George Floyd’s death was what sparked her participation in the BLM protests. Beforehand, she had been involved in climate change protests and gay pride protests. She was “very vocal about BLM” on social media at the time. But after George Floyd was murdered, she wanted to do more.

The injustice to the black community made her feel “morally obligated to participate in as many protests, petitions, etc. as [she] could.” 

It became clear to McGuire that “in order to see change, you have to be the change.” This is why she has participated in three BLM protests in the past few months, one at the University Town Center, one at Marina Jacks, and one along MLK Boulevard.

BLM Protest in Sarasota (Credit: The ODA Bolt Media)

Like McGuire, Hudson participated in BLM protests out of curiosity “and a feeling of obligation.” Hudson had been going to BLM protests before the death of George Floyd; his first protest was in 2016 at the BPD Headquarters rally, and since then, he has participated in numerous BLM protests.

His reason for protesting expands further than a sense of responsibility. Hudson, who grew up in a biracial family, has always known the meaning of racism due to some experiences he has encountered. “Racism is not all gone as some people believe;” instead, “it still persists … as ignorant and subtle racism.” 

Even though he has been raised in a “very undiverse, privileged, bubble of a town,” privilege has not shielded him from the racism he experiences due to his skin color. Hudson opened up about his own experiences with racism, from having racial slurs directed at him to receiving attacks on his family. While being “not all black nor all white,” he has faced “negativity for being one or the other.” Hudson has been able to experience and view life from two different perspectives. 

Due to the environment Hudson has grown up in, he has, without fail, felt passionate about the BLM movement. 

McGuire credits her participation in these protests as eye-opening and illuminating. She was able to listen to firsthand accounts of normalized racism experienced by other protestors, and she acknowledges that the privilege of her skin color has allowed her to remain “untouched” by this “world of discrimination.”

Hudson, likewise, found his involvement to be “truly invigorating.”

Witnessing the passionate unity “of people of all colors and creeds for one cause,” emotional camaraderie, and participation of those who do not belong to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community “gave [him] faith in [his] generation” to be agents of change.

The enormity and gravity of these protests also shed light on the evident pervasiveness of racism. Hudson believes the marches played a dual role in bringing out the good in people while exposing the evil that persists in others. His participation in the protests gave him valuable insight into what it truly means to stand up for what you believe in.

“Do not get me wrong, I do understand that when you put yourself out there in the public eye, when you are voicing your opinions, people will disagree, but the ignorance, the anger in these people, the complete lack of respect for human life, that is where I draw that line. My experience in these marches was overall beautiful and exciting; they gave me a look into a world that I hope one day we will have, a world where we can all come together and fight for the right thing, even against hatred and anger,” shares Hudson.

In the next few years, McGuire sees the BLM movement expanding. She recognizes that “it took worldwide outrage to create minimal systemic change,” and so she believes the movement must surge to accomplish its larger goals. She sees this outrage as only the beginning.

Hudson varies in his opinion of where the BLM movement is headed in the next few years. He tries to be “optimistic;” he recognizes that the BLM movement has helped people of color and credits it with being “notably influential” in spurring positive outcomes for human rights by “[creating] a platform to show all people that racism is still prevalent and a real problem in the United States and most other countries.” 

Hudson believes that since Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012, the BLM movement has advanced due to its “strong foothold in American media” and multimedia in other countries. It would be tremendous for the BLM movement to extend its influence and “make even more changes to the world.”

Credit: The ODA Bolt Media

However, Hudson “does not believe we will truly see the outcome of BLM [movement] for many years from now, possibly decades.”

He believes that the battle for change, over the last hundreds of years, has not been as fruitful as it should be. Overall, Hudson hopes and believes that the “BLM [movement] does make as big of an impact as the social justice fights in the 1960s.”

The resurgence of the BLM movement has been a transformative experience for many. It has inspired change for the betterment of people of color. One way to get involved is to donate to organizations like National Police Accountability Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Other ways to support the movement are to sign petitions, march in protests, educate yourself on current events and societal racism, and vote for people that support the BLM movement. A few informative books to read are How to be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi; When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele; Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla F. Saad; and So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo.

It is crucial that all members of our communities have these conversations about racism in our society and about what it truly means to be an anti-racist to ensure a more just and equal future for all.


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