In light of the recent events in Charlotte, Baton Rouge, Orlando and Dallas, some believe that there has never been a more prominent time to discuss the importance of all human life. This was the goal of the “My Life Matters” event held last Wednesday in the Student Union Ballroom.
The event was put on by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black Student Union. NAACP President Ciara DeVaull and BSU President Josten Milan were in attendance with university’s Student Excellence Advisor Dr. Gabe Willis acting as mediator.
The night opened with a slideshow showcasing a variety of photos. Everything from victims of past violence to the demonstrations that rose in their wake were included. Pictures of African American women holding signs asking, “Does my son matter?,” a man standing proudly in a crowd of protestors, texts reading “Pray for Orlando” and “Blue Lives Matter” all set the tone for the session.
This was followed by a video consisting of a variety of different students being asked why they believe their life matters. Answers ranged from, “I have a purpose” to “I am a human being.”
The theme continued throughout the night with Willis who has three academic degrees and experience in the field of encouraging self worth and dealing with racial bias. Willis wanted to go beyond the idea that all lives matter. He wanted to encourage everyone to look into the bad that happens and the good that comes from it. According to Willis, when it comes to African-Americans’ difficult history, “On a daily basis, I look back not just into the oppression but to all the progress in the midst of the oppression.”
Throughout the session, Willis actively encouraged the group to participate and contribute and he started this by asking three questions: “Have you ever felt threatened because of your skin color?,” “How many of you have ever felt judged because of the color of your skin?” and “How many of you have ever felt uncomfortable in the skin you’re in?” These questions acted as an icebreaker to help the audience feel more comfortable in participating.
While discussing all of the topics from the questions that were brought up, Willis spent a good portion of time on the third question. Instead of asking why they felt uncomfortable, he asked why they felt comfortable after seeing how many said they were.
There were answers and comments, but the most prominent probably came from the presidents.
“We finally recognized the beauty of being black,” said DeVaull. “I think we’ve realized who we are, and why we should love ourselves.”
These words were echoed through the night. While some might unfairly regard these types of events as unimportant or hate filled, Willis made a point of debunking these accusations.
“The night is not meant for cop hating or anything like that,” said Willis. “It is a night of empowerment towards all people so that we can all recognize our worth.”
To find out more about the organizations involved, visit their social media, @bsuselu and @selunaacp.