Readings: 

  • Roxane Gay. “Student Activism Is Serious Business: The protesters at Mizzou and Yale need to be heard, not laughed off.” The New Republic (Moodle)*Gene Sharp,
  • 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action
  • All of one demand of M4BL platform (End the war on black people; Reparations; Invest-divest; Economic justice, Community control; Political power)

Class Discussion: 

  • Student activism & tokenism
  • HBCUs vs. PWIs
  • East Bay Alliance
  • Asians for Black Lives
  • State violence
  • Where is the future of activism?

Today’s class was incredibly busy from beginning to end, with it beginning with a stimulating discussion of “pro” vs. “anti” protestors and then culminating in an empowering panel with four big names in the East Bay Black Lives Matter movement. Initially we talked about tokenism and how black students do not have very many role models to look up to, and when they succeed on their own they are put on a pedestal that a white child of the same skill set would not be on- in this way, they become tokens. They are then the “token” black person who is the exception to the rule that all people of color are screw ups and unable to break through the walls within their own spirits. The conversation traveled to Historically Black Colleges and Universities versus Primarily White Institutions and how both are stigmatized in the black and white communities. Kalia shared an interesting point that there are no black faculty in the science department at Saint Mary’s (which is, not surprisingly, a PWI).

I think that this concept of tokenism further isolates the person of color from those around them- both the white peers and the black. Unfortunately, what begins as an attempt to right some wrongs ends up hurting the individual more than helping. The class concluded that racial fatigue is an unfortunate but realistic truth of being black and that self care is integral to living a happy life as a person of color. Without a strong support system, people of color are left in the dark and unable function normally in society.

When the four speakers came in, I was immediately happy to see that they were not all black. It was refreshing to see Asians, Whites, and Blacks gathering somewhere and supporting the BLM movement. I appreciated the fact that a common theme running through each speaker’s speech was the idea of breaking down walls and barriers between races and building up alliances. We spoke briefly about state violence and how policies are created that have a disproportionate impact on people of color versus white people. Another group, SURGE, really surprised me and I am even considering attending one of their meetings. SURGE stands for “Showing Up For Social Justice,” and it is basically a response to the BLM movement from a white perspective, which integrates what it means to truly be an ally.

I think these alliances are so, so important to the development and advancement of the Black Lives Matter movement. I think that these man made structures allow for networking with like-minded people and they work to both strengthen the emotional connections to the cause but also the mental. I think that these groups can definitely have either a monumentally good impact or a monumentally bad, depending on the amount of time and effort put forth in order to truly make change. Overall, I was stunned at the impact that the groups had on the Bay Area and I hope to continue to be able to spread word about them.


Learning Objective #8: Examine how social categories and structures of power may affect the human person. 

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