OPINION: Protesting for a reason
Students held up clenched fists during the Black Lives Matter silent protest on Feb. 5.
Last week, I stumbled upon a protest happening in front of the University’s Administration building. The protesters were standing silently, and I feigned to see what was going on, before I realized it was in honor of Trayvon Martin’s birthday. Their protest seemed to rouse some negative opinions, because I overheard people saying their signs were “rude” and "out of place." It seemed odd a silent protest would stir such negative comments, but that leads me to my overall opinion of the situation.
Whether or not you agree with the Black Lives Matter movement or have differing opinions on the Trayvon Martin case, it is time to stop telling minorities to be quiet and invalidate their opinions. Would you tell a sexual assault survivor to shut up? What about a Holocaust victim? If you answered "no" to either of those questions, you need to stop telling minorities to stop talking about racism.
The way a society heals from past wrongdoings is not simply to forgive and forget. A narrative needs to be started where minorities are given a platform and a chance to speak instead of being constantly shut down. The U.S. has committed many wrongdoings, not just to African Americans but also to Asian Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. Telling them their opinion does not matter is just further exacerbating the issue and making it worse, not better.
The only way we can continue to flourish and grow as a society is to listen to what other people have to say and work to improve. This really isn’t much to ask. No, I am not saying white people are guilty of the sins of their ancestors or all white people are evil. What I am saying, however, is the only way to end racism is to talk about it. It is an uncomfortable topic, as it should be. But societies do not move forward from traumas by pretending they never happened. This is exactly why literature and film surrounding our country’s complicated past should not be vilified, but celebrated.
So instead of shutting down someone else’s opinion, try to learn more about it. Understand why racism still matters and is still pertinent in today’s society. We have made leaps and bounds since the Civil Rights Movement, but believe me, there is still a long ways to go. Instead of devaluing protesters, try to understand where they are coming from. Because it's 2019, and it's time.
Hopefully, all of us are attending the UA to try and make the world a better place. You don’t have to wait until graduation, you can start now simply by being more open minded and expanding your horizons. Your opinion is not the only one that matters.
Follow Anika Pasilis on Twitter