Opinion: Now Is the Time to Speak Up, Use Your Platform and Enact Change
Note: The following essay was crafted by Tayjua Hines, president of Black United Students (BUS), a student organization at Kent State University. Founded in 1968, the underlying philosophy of BUS is to serve and unify all Black students at Kent State by addressing their needs.
As a community, Black citizens have seen more than enough of our own treated unjustly, brutalized and murdered by law enforcement. For me, my first realization of the value that America places on its Black citizens was when Trayvon Martin was killed by police, how he received no justice and his murderer is still able to live freely. This is when my peers and I received “The Talk,” during which we were taught how to carry our Blackness, be respectful to authority and move in ways where we as children won’t make police officers feel threatened by our little bodies.
As we grew older, the Trayvon Martins grew larger, and there was a continuous repetition of our people being stolen from us, so that by the time we graduated high school, there had been too many to count. As a college student, I have what feels like, but are not, normal conversations with my friends about being harassed and profiled by police. It goes to show that this mistreatment happens to Black people everywhere, even on their campuses.
To come back to speed, as a young Black woman and activist, I have attended one of the many protests in my city, for justice for George Floyd. I felt that this was a matter I needed to attend, not only because what happened to George Floyd was wrong, but that these instances occur in my own city as well. Desmond Franklin, 22, shot April 9, 2020, on West 25th Street in Cleveland by an off-duty officer is an example. He has not received the media attention nor the justice that he deserves. The Black community is sick and tired of having to live in fear, of being seen as threats and not knowing if our loved ones are going to make it home or wake up the next morning. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are only the tip of the iceberg of the overt and covert racism we’ve endured for centuries in America.
For Kent State students, the injustices we face now are not new. This has been taking place since before our time. There will constantly be a cycle of unrest and uproar and a cycle of hope and relief for new beginnings. Now is the time to enact change, speak up, challenge your peers and family members, use your platform, learn about your history and thoroughly educate yourselves.