On June 8th, faculty and students at Saint Peter’s University gathered on Zoom to share their feelings and ideas surrounding how to bring positive change to the community based on the Black Lives Matter movement.
They spoke on how police brutality and other racist commentary and actions have hurt those in the black community. But now that many individuals from all races, religions, genders and sexual orientations are ready to stand alongside the black community, the fight for justice can begin.
Jan Reimer, the Director of the Center of Leadership, Engagement and Orientation asked students during the Zoom call to describe how they are feeling during this time. Some words students expressed were silenced, heartbroken, hopeful, frustrated and defeated. The call was a platform to help students reflect on all of the emotions they are feeling and speak on what is happening in our country.
George Floyd, who was recently murdered by a police officer, is just one of many who are killed by police brutality every single year.
“As a part of my employment with the state police, I have seen racism and discrimination from day one of entering the academy until the time that I left,” shared Professor Brian Royster.
SPU student Valeria Moreno spoke on the involvement of more SPU community members to educate ourselves more on the Black Lives Matter movement and also find ways to help those who are struggling during this time.
“Where are the people who are the racists in our University? When we have events at Saint Peter’s, people go but it is mainly the minorities and [they] are already knowledgeable about what is happening and are advocating for the cost,” she said. “Where are the other students who need to be there and hear and listen to what is happening? Where are the other 2000 students for this call?”
Even though no one will ever understand fully how the black community is feeling, it is important to come together to help them fight for their rights and it is important to educate those on the outside on the movement and history.
“We will not feel exactly how black people are experiencing this racism, but we need to take a step forward in educating the people.” Moreno said.
A diverse faculty on campus would lead for Saint Peter's University to truly prove they are a more diverse institution Fatima Camara brought into the conversation.
“The President can send emails about inclusivity, but if you are not going to take care of the people who are teaching us I do not want to hear that. We have all white professors and black and brown cooking and cleaning staff,” Camara said.
Another SPU student, Fatima Camara also shared her thoughts on George Floyd’s tragic death and reflected thinking what if it was not George Floyd who died, but her, her family member, or another innocent black human being.
“The fact that this would have gotten me killed--the fact that my brother or father could have been killed or just anyone--I don’t feel safe,” she said. “I barely sleep and eat. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.”