‘We are Proud to Say that We Have Started a Tradition that We Hope to Continue’
As president of the University’s Black Student Union, I am grateful that so many supported our recent Black Lives Matter Flag Raising event at the University. I want the University community to know that we aren’t saying all lives don’t matter, but that all lives can’t matter if Black Lives Don’t Matter.
February 3, 2022
By Ariana Eastwood ’23
As an African American woman majoring in forensic science, I face the harsh reality of pursuing a career within the criminal justice system. Currently, this system consists of discrimination, racism, and oppression to historically marginalized groups. I often ask myself…why? Why should I pursue a career in law enforcement? Why have so many police officers resorted to brutality? Why do African Americans feel unsafe to walk within their own neighborhoods, sleep peacefully in their own beds, or have the liberty to breathe?
I don’t let these questions stop me from pursuing my dreams, but it does challenge me knowing this is the path that I chose, and I hope to make a difference within the system. As a leader in the Black Student Union, I have an opportunity to have engaging and enlightening discussions concerning these issues.
BSU was first established at the University in 1973, shortly after the civil rights movement. During this era, there were numerous acts of violence occurring across this nation. Thus, the Black Student Union founders implemented a student organization that is recognized on this campus. I salute those founders and this institution for bringing about a platform for students, faculty, and staff to conduct an open dialogue on many concerning issues. By doing this, it has allowed conversations, not only about what is going on in our nation, but what is going on right here on our campus.
In the past, there were demonstrations, protests, and sit-ins on campus that allowed students of color to share their frustration as to what was actually occurring at a university they called home. If we fast forward to this present day, there has been some progress, and for that I am grateful.
For the first time in the University’s history, we raised a Black Lives Matter Flag. What first was a hashtag after the death of Trayvon Martin has now become a global movement. As a minority student at a predominantly white institution, I believe it is imperative that we all know that our lives matter here. I am honored to be part of change. We all can be a part of the change that we want to see.
It is important for the University to come together and acknowledge that Black Lives Matter because it will show all faculty, staff, students, alumni, and prospective students that the University understands the issues that the world is facing and not just sugar coating what is occurring.
As a forensic science student who is a part of the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, it is important for me to know that students who are receiving an education know the truth about what sometimes happens in the system – and that they try their best to stop it. When we say that Black Lives Matter, we aren’t saying all lives don’t matter, but that all lives can’t matter if Black Lives Don’t Matter.
As for the Black Student Union, we are proud to say that we have started a tradition that we hope to continue for years. We thank U.S. Congressman Jamaal Bowman ’99 for his wonderful speech and Dean Rowe Allen for helping us host the event. We appreciate all the faculty, staff, and students who attended. Seeing everyone from different departments warmed our hearts. We hope more students come to our events throughout the rest of Black History Month and even after, as they’re always open for anyone to come!
Ariana Eastwood ’23, a forensic science major, is president of the University’s Black Student Union.