These aren’t exactly the best times in the United States. Every day, it seems, we’re hearing about another black person being shot and killed by the police. And to be honest with you, I fear for my life in this country. I don’t want to be another hashtag or a statistic. I want to live. It’s saying something that I felt more safe living in Sierra Leone than I do in Philadelphia. The most important thing to do, for black women and black men like myself, for those who are aware of what’s going on but aren’t directly affected, for anyone, is to stick together.
Solidarity is the idea that one should value the lifeblood of the community over their own, and come together in times of need to show support. On September 26, our Arcadia community had our own moment of solidarity and protest. At 1 p.m., students, faculty, and staff, wearing all black, spilled from buildings throughout campus to rally support for the #Missing24 boycott, a nationwide boycott launched by actor Isaiah Washington, which called for African Americans to stay home on the 26th in protest of the recent killings of black men by police in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
The event, organized by Tatiana Redden ’17 and Natalie Vargas ’17, both Sociology seniors, quickly became a platform for all of us to express our concerns, experiences, and prospects regarding this troubling and divisive issue. Many read original works of poetry. Dr. Doreen Louryof the Sociology department spoke on how she lives in this time as a black mother and read the lyrics to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s “Ella’s Song.” Some got up to speak their minds and share their experiences. Black, white, and other people of color came together to say to one another that not only do we support each other, but that black lives matter and police brutality must come to an end.
“I’m glad I didn’t speak, actually,” Olayinka Adesehinwa ’16 told me after the event, “They would have had to wrestle that microphone away from me. There is just so much going on right now; this was the perfect way for all of us to come together and collectively take that deep breath and say, ‘We got each other’.”
Christopher Brewington ’20 and I discussed the event as well. “I really enjoyed what happened today,” he told me. “I think it was good that we had our boycott on campus to spread awareness about the movement. Within this, too, there was lots of support. Even though it was a judgment-free zone, it takes a lot of courage to speak your mind in front of all those people. I had a real sense of unity with the group.”
Arcadia is a wonderful school, but it is isn’t the most diverse university. At this event, however, I was able to see the most black students in one place I’d ever seen. Honestly, all came together to show love and support for one another. But seeing white and other allies to the Black Lives Matter cause on campus was the kind of assurance I needed to know that my campus is truly my community.