Resident Assistant Sydney Ramos hosts BLM Brave Space to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. - Photo courtesy of Sydney Ramos

What does Black Lives Matter mean to you?

That was the question that started the BLM Brave Space meeting held by 20-year-old Sydney Ramos, a resident assistant at Rowan University. Every month she holds a Zoom meeting where the BLM movement is discussed.

This past Monday was one of those meeting days. While it was originally meant for the Mimosa Hall freshmen students, Ramos expanded it to all of Rowan. As advertised, it was a safe space for people to share their views and voices with their fellow students, and many topics surrounding the movement were discussed.

“We can’t control how people were raised, we can’t change people’s perspectives, but the least we can do is try to provide that education and clarity,” Ramos said.

Some areas of discussion were talking about how they view the “all lives matter” and “blue lives matter” statements, and how social media plays a role in these views.

“When people say all lives matter, most of the time they’re not coming at the movement itself,” Ramos said. “The prominent issue is that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t saying we’re more important than the rest of the people in the country. It’s quite contrary. We’re saying everyone’s important, but we aren’t being respected and getting the same type of treatment and equality that we should be getting altogether. I feel when someone says all lives matter they’re just oblivious to the movement itself or not seeing the genuine points of it.”

Students of Rowan with differing racial backgrounds attended the meeting and shared personal stories. 

“When I was in elementary school, I had a teacher who had nothing to do with me. She didn’t care if I was struggling or if I needed help,” said Kennedy Polk, a freshman majoring in athletic training. “I remember writing this paper for her class one time and she asked me who helped me with this and did I get this off the internet because the writing was so vivid…she started doubting me, thinking that I was cheating. She never questioned the other kids, just me. I was the only African American in the class. I definitely experienced that at a very young age where I didn’t understand why until I got older. But it did help me because I like writing and I’m pretty good at it.”

This meeting had a question and answer format where everyone had the opportunity to get their voice heard.

“I feel like social media doesn’t show [injustices to Black lives] as much now — it’s starting to die down,” Polk said. “When it’s not being said anymore or when it’s not being reposted or talked about, it’s kind of like people act like it’s in the past, that it’s over. But it’s still happening even though it’s not on social media.”

It was agreed by everyone in the meeting that blue lives and Black lives both matter. The difference between them is that blue lives refers to the job of being a cop, and at the end of the day they can take off the uniform, whereas Black lives are who they are all the time. They can’t change their skin color.

“I feel some people are like you have to pick a side,” Ramos said. “You’re either for Blue Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter, but that isn’t the case. You can be for the Black Lives Matter movement — I know I support it, but I still care about officers in the sense my brother-in-law is a cop.”

Eight people attended this meeting and Ramos hopes more people attend next month’s meeting on Nov. 16.

“My goal was to just make people aware that there is a place to come to discuss these things, because obviously, it’s a tough subject to touch upon,” Ramos said. “Somebody mentioned in the meeting that some people might feel afraid to express their opinions because of how touchy of a subject it is. People and students need to feel like they’re able to express their opinions without repercussions.”

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