Humboldt State senior Gianna Guzman flaunts a sign during the Arcata BLM protest on Jun 12. | Photo by Gabe Kim

Humboldt State Students Stand Up And Stand Out Against Racism

Actions are being taken to bring about change in a country dominated by racism and police brutality
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Actions are being taken to bring about change in a country dominated by racism and police brutality

Fueled by the Josiah Lawson case and the George Floyd murder, Humboldt State University students are taking to the internet and the streets in protest of systemic racism. Students and community members alike are actively displaying their pent-up anger and fear surrounding being marginalized.

Kiara Mixon, a fourth-year psychology student, has been trying to educate herself and those around her about what’s going on. Namely, she has been sharing different resources with people who are unaware of the Black Lives Matter movement and watching documentaries about racism to get a deeper insight into it.

While she hasn’t really been going out in the streets and protesting, she has still seen both sides of the movement.

“I see people who are of color protesting and, truthfully, it means a lot that those people are standing up when it’s an issue for them as well,” Mixon said. “But I’ve also had people who aren’t really speaking up or haven’t said anything or don’t really have a personal opinion on the matter and that makes me a little bit uncomfortable because you never know where they’re standing.”

Senior psychology major Edwin Rosales has become more outspoken and animated in the wake of the revamped BLM movement. He lives with his mother’s side of the family and has gone back and forth with them about everything going on.

“After talking with them, it’s kind of difficult to talk to them about it because they’re very, you know, still in the olden ways and are very ignorant about it,” Rosales said. “So, I’ve had to be outspoken about it and be like ‘You know what? You’re not understanding the cause’ or having to explain to them what it is.”

Rosales has carried his new-found, forthright persona around racism into the land of social media as well.

“I never really posted about that stuff,” Rosales said. “I’m not helping if I don’t say anything, and so if I am posting about something, maybe someone will read it and maybe someone will help in some way.”

Julianne Blandford is a senior majoring in child development. She is feeling a lot of mixed emotions in the midst of the string of racist events that have occurred from the George Floyd murder to the leaked video of three HSU students making racist taunts toward Black people. She is attending protests and doing everything she can to move the conversation about racism along.

“It is my time to sit down and listen and also stand up for those who can’t speak,” Blandford said.

Blandford recognizes her own status but also wants to work with those who are being suppressed.

“I’m seeing it as an opportunity to continue to create change, create a more peaceful place to live, create new systems that aren’t founded upon racism, and a world where no-one has to live in fear,” Blandford said.

“We need to redistribute resources and really build communities.”

Dr. Ramona J.J. Bell

Dr. Ramona J.J. Bell, a critical race and gender studies professor, believes that there are a number of factors to look at that are feeding into a racist America.

“We’re a country where we put so much money into our military, but there’s people without health care, so we concentrate on, you know, defending the country,” Bell said. “But we have to reconfigure and reimagine what that really means to defend the country, to defend America.”

Bell emphasized the importance of unifying communities in a country where the opposite is happening at the hands of the police.

“We need to redistribute resources and really build communities,” Bell said. “When you are killing black folks in communities and the police are killing us, that’s not building our community — that’s killing our community. So we have to look at ways in which we can build America because our country was built off the backs of Black people, particularly during the Holocaust of enslavement.”

Bell recognized a need for change in America when it comes to race and embraced the protests that have spawned from it.

“We have to revisit America’s notion of belonging and we have to revisit race in America,” Bell said. “There’s never been a real conversation about race and racism in America. And I think the protests going on all over the country, all over the world are telling us something’s wrong and it needs to be fixed.”

More than anything, Bell emphasized that we are all in this fight together, no matter the color of your skin.

“That’s part of the fight. That’s part of the struggle to get people to understand that Black lives matter,” Bell said. “It’s about letting us be free to live lives like America has promised.”

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