2020 was the year in which the world faced a terrible global pandemic: COVID-19. However, for the Black community another global issue became intertwined: racial injustice. Throughout the enigmatic months of this year, we have seen countless members of the Black community die senselessly: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey; the list continues on. Each victim was murdered unjustly, with their family torn in the process. Being a Black man in America, living through this reprise has been disheartening. The Black population, while not related, is vulnerable and left numb due to the several injustices that affect our community. How much must we suffer until we gain equality? Through the grief, countless members and allies rose up in order to act for equity and peace. Now that the school year has brought us closer together, UConn is no different.
On Wednesday, UConn’s African American Cultural Center (AACC), as well as many other organizations, came together to host a vigil in remembrance of those within the Black community who we have lost due to the racial injustice that resides within society. In the event, we had students, the president of UConn and teachers alike host a panel to speak against what has been happening in the world as well as what UConn can do to accommodate and tend to the BIPOC community.
“The vigil is here to remind us that the summer protests and actions that have occurred have brought us to a place where we now need to recognize such actions and justice that needs to be worked on as we continue to find peace within our community as well as ourselves,” Guymara Manigat, a seventh-semester allied health sciences major and the senior advisor of the AACC, said.
In terms of change, what did the students and teachers who attended this vigil have in mind? A few points that came across are as follows: mandatory classes that speak on social and racial injustice, an increase in minority faculty representation, an increase in BIPOC mental health workers, as well as absentee ballots in order to exercise the students’ rights to vote.
“A vigil of this nature had to happen,” Omar Gebril, a seventh-semester psychology and Arabic and Islamic civilizations major and representative for various student athletes, said. “It starts with a few people who are demanding to have their voices heard. We live in a society where countless acts of social injustice go without consequence especially when it comes to police brutality. It’s all unacceptable.”
As demoralizing as this period of time has been, change is more imminent than ever before. It begins with us, the students, the Black community, the allies. We need to use our voices and our power to speak on those who have been left to suffer. In complete darkness we are all the same, yet we are not seen as such. In order to live in a world where every individual is allowed to live as they are in their truth through diversity, equity and inclusivity, we need to speak on change and act for peace.