Alicia Garza Keeps it Real at Skidmore College
Photo by Eric Jenks, '08
On February 27 at 5:00pm, hundreds of Skidmore students filled the seats of Gannet Auditorium to hear what the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, Alicia Garza, had to say about the network that has contributed to a powerful and influential movement that advocates equal treatment of black people across the United States of America. Garza transformed an uncomfortable topic into an accessible conversation by using a constant friendly tone throughout the lecture. She started by saying “Hey” to the audience and asking them about their day. She continued by engaging the audience with rhetorical questions like “You know where I’m going with this?” and people followed by snapping their fingers, which was the way the audience was able to respond to Garza’s accounts. At the end, students asked questions that she addressed honestly and profoundly.
Alicia Garza brought so many students together, that people had to sit on the floor or stand since there were not enough seats for everybody. Also, the organizers of the event decided to project a live video of Garza’s lecture simultaneously in another auditorium.
She touched on many uncomfortable, yet important topics that are not usually discussed at the dinner table. These are persistent conflicts that affect innocent people, and it is hard to accept them, much less talk about them. White dominance, the justice system, and racism were some of the topics she brought up. “Imma keep it real,” said Garza after mentioning white dominance, which was followed by a series of snaps. She clearly stated that white agents control the justice system, thus people of color are on the other side of justice, or “on the losing side.”
“[Black people] are problems to be solved.” This is what Garza said is the view of society, yet she quickly implied that it is the system which is the real problem to be solved, and this is what the movement is all about. Black people are the ones with the highest rates on statistics regarding crime. Garza mentioned many numbers and specific cases that supported her claim. Even though all of what she said is right and worth protesting against, she continuously admitted how tired she was of repeating these numbers and having to recall the disturbing truth to people and to herself.
Alicia Garza wants change more than anyone, and the best way to achieve this is by putting pressure on the subject. People need to listen. They need to accept and understand so that this change can take place. How the network #BlackLivesMatter stared was by the publishing of a “love letter,” as Garza calls it, towards the black race. “I love us,” she said. She praised the race in this letter at a time when the justice system was publicly condemning the race by acquitting George Zimmerman free of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Her letter opened the path to allow the pressure to flow. The pressure of change is persistent and strong. Elections are coming up and this may be a possibility for the change Garza talks about: a possibility for everyone to be free of fragmentation and indifference.