A gathering was held in the Plaza to support BIPOC community members and listen to their experiences. Students and community members listened to the challenges that BIPOC folks in Humboldt County face today. Nikki Valencia organizes these forums for people of color to voice their concerns. The main theme was calling out the lukewarm allyship in the Humboldt community. They want to call out an illusion of progressiveness that often fails to enact real action and support for people of color.
“So many people showed up in support, even in a short time frame,” Valencia said. “I feel proud and appreciative of the strong speakers. People were brave enough to get up there”.
One student speaker, Jesse Beacham Grijalva Prieto, feels that HSU is not a safe environment and does not meet the inclusivity standards that it preaches. Beacham Grijalva Prieto feels the support they need isn’t there in the resources that HSU provides, and came to the plaza to voice those issues.
“This is a space for people to listen to BIPOC voices,” Beacham Grijalva Prieto said in a speech directed towards white liberals. “It’s an opportunity for people to get that wake-up call and to be able to see who your community is.”
Joy Mehn is a junior at HSU who wants to see students turn out to more events like this and came to meet like-minded members of the community. She encourages people to act on their words.
“We talk about activism online, it’s important to actually go out and do the things we’re talking about,” Mehn said. Too many people get caught up in online “slacktivism” without actually bringing tangible support to their communities.
This was a space of gathering and voice. Tents offered first aid, cookies, BIPOC art, and community resources. The event took a confrontational turn as some folks insisted on being in the space without masks. Two white men unaffiliated with anyone else there had a confrontation in which a camera was thrown and the police were called, which had nothing to do with the organizers or speakers there. This just goes to show the obstacles that people of color face just trying to be heard in their community.
“It’s very frustrating to have these white people very clearly inserting themselves,” Beacham Grijalva Prieto said. The two men yelling drew attention away from the real reason people were there, to listen to people of color speak. It represents the challenges BIPOC communities are facing in voicing their experiences- white people trying to fit into a space that is not made for them.