Student Activism Shines Amongst BLM’s National Rise

Student+Activism+Shines+Amongst+BLM%E2%80%99s+National+Rise

The Black Lives Matter movement’s influence can be seen throughout the United States, with protests occurring daily as early as March in many cities. The movement’s influence can even be seen here, in Livermore, California. 

From activism on social media, to in-person protests, Livermore residents have shown their passion and dedication towards Black Lives Matter and its ideas.

The Black Lives Matter movement has existed, as we know it now, since the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013, but the movement has gained significant traction over the past few months — hence the rise of BLM protests and social media activism. 

The reason for Black Lives Matter’s rise can be attributed, partly, to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd

Taylor was a black EMT who was murdered by police during a no-knock raid while sleeping in March of this year. Floyd was killed in police custody in May of this year after being accused of forging a $20 bill, leading one officer to step on his neck for over eight minutes.  

These murders shed light on the United States’ ever-growing issue with police violence, which disproportionately affects black citizens — leaving black men 3.5x more likely to die at the hands of police than whites. 

Alexandria Lish (11) is a student at Livermore High School with a passion for social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Lish is co-President of LHS’ activism club: Students for Social Change. The club is very openly pro-BLM, and encourages young people to raise their voices in support of the causes they believe in — whether it’s through in-person protest or online activism.

“I became an active supporter and ally to the BLM movement this June,” Lish explained. “I knew it had been around for longer, but the matter wasn’t as prominent at the time and fell off my radar. Since the George Floyd case and protests, I have been an avid supporter of this movement.” 

Lish said that she believes that police brutality is a huge problem in the United States and shared her thoughts on what may lessen the issue. 

“I believe defunding and retraining the police would help lessen police brutality. I think the word ‘defund’ scares people, and so they can’t find a way to back this idea,” said Lish. “Defunding the police would mean deferring money that typically goes straight to the police into parts of the community that need it most.”

“Providing more funding to areas in poverty or in need of assistance, or education, will inevitably lessen crime, lessening a need for police,” Lish elaborated. “At the end of the day, the more money that goes into the police, there is less money going into the community. This leads to more crime. This is what defunding means. I believe everybody should be behind this idea.”  

Lish explained that she is an enthusiastic proponent for high school students, like herself, to get involved in activism at a young age, even if they feel like there is not much they can do to achieve their political and social ideals. 

“As co-president of the LHS Students for Social Change on campus, I believe that you must put in the work today. Even though you’re ‘just a kid’ still, why not start now? You have to be the change you want to see in the world. You have to do it yourself. Get out, get involved, and reach and fight for what you want,” Lish said.

Natalie Chu (12) has become an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement as well, making her opinions and stances on social issues very clear to her classmates via her online presence. 

“I always supported human rights, but I started supporting BLM after the tragedy of George Floyd. I realised that I needed to take my part in making the world a better place and I wanted to support my friends as well as [people of color],” Chu said.

Chu’s solution to the problems plaguing people of color in the United States starts with voting in the upcoming Presidential Election.

“I believe we should first start with voting out our current president. We can’t change anything when our voices won’t be heard,” Chu said.

Chu went on to explain, “Next, we should defund the police, funding other public facilities such as healthcare and public schools. We should continue activism and spreading awareness about social injustice in society and government.” 

Chu said she thinks the biggest problem with the current political landscape is the desensitization of the Black Lives Matter movement and the issues it speaks out against. 

“Lately, the BLM movement is now ‘normalized’ and I hate how people have gotten used to it,” Chu said. “I feel like we won’t progress and change as much if we continue to stop spreading awareness.” 

Another student who is very open about her views regarding the BLM movement is Claire Buxton (10). Buxton explained that she grew up in what she described as a very supportive, accepting household.

 “I never viewed people of color as any different from myself or other white people,” Buxton explained. “I began to support the official Black Lives Matter movement when the terrible murder of Ahmaud Arbery occurred.”

Ahmaud Arbery was a 25-year-old black man who was killed while jogging by armed white citizens from his town in Georgia in February. 

Buxton’s strong beliefs regarding Black Lives Matter have led her to take action. 

She explained, “I am part of the club ‘Students for Social Change’ at my school. I have been going to many local BLM protests and plan on going to more. I have signed multiple petitions that support this movement.”

Buxton also emphasized the importance of voting in this coming election. “If I was old enough to vote, I would be voting blue in this election. I have encouraged many to vote blue in hopes of electing a president who is more open to other races, religions, and sexual orientations.” 

Something that all of these interview subjects mentioned in talking about BLM was the prominence of something called “burnout.” Oftentimes, focusing on sensitive and important subjects, such as racial inequality and police violence, leads activists to feel fatigued or stressed.

Buxton uses yoga as a means to fight burnout, while Lish and Chu explained that they encourage social media breaks as a means of fighting this feeling.

Emma Godinez (12) said she believes that the best way to fight burnout is to simply take a break, whether it be a short rest from social media, or taking time to do something non-stressful, such as reading or exercising. 

“When I personally feel tired as a result of my activism, I usually take a short break to focus on my mental health,” Godinez explained. “Sometimes I feel guilty about this, but I realize that in order to keep contributing to the cause I have to put my best and full self out there, which requires self care.”

She went on to talk about the importance of every voice in the BLM movement, saying, 

“No matter how old you are or how little you think you can help,” Godinez said, “I promise that it matters and [your voice] will not go unnoticed. The more people in support of the movement, the quicker the change will happen.”

Today’s youth will eventually be the ones writing legislation and serving as politicians and Supreme Court judges. With the passion and dedication so many young people have today, as displayed in the BLM movement, it is safe to say that the future is in the hands of people who genuinely care about the well-being of their country and fellow citizens.

Feature Image by Lydia Vance