By Michael Maraghi, Staff Writer
St. John Fisher’s Black Student Union (BSU) organized the BSU BlackOut on Nov. 2 to protest racial injustice and promote diversity on the Fisher campus.
The BlackOut event was a silent protest that united students who felt oppressed on campus in any way due to their race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic class status, ability, religion, sexual orientation or gender.
“One of the reasons why we put on this event is so we could get people talking about the issues of racism, about the issues of what goes on in African American culture and to get a campus that is majority Caucasian talking about these issues with the hope that this will help lead to some improvements,” said sophomore Ranita Williams, secretary of BSU. “My goal is as long as this gets people talking about these issues, then we have succeeded in some way.”
Students of all backgrounds stood silently and locked arms in the Campus Center Atrium. The protest finished with an organized walk around LeChase Commons.
Similar protests have been held on other campuses like Nazareth College, Syracuse University and Dartmouth College.
When asked about the current state of equality and diversity on campus, Williams said, “there is still some work to be done. I think the only way to begin to achieve equality is to not only find the reasons why we don’t have more diversity on campus, but also educating our students that are here now to accept that there is diversity in the world and we could get them feeling comfortable standing up for racism and standing up for injustice.”
In planning the event, BSU president Channon Jamison made sure to connect with diversity clubs on campus such as Feminist Alliance, Sustained Dialogue and Latino Student Union (LSU), among others, so that they too could make their voices heard.
“I definitely want more exposure for the diversity clubs on campus,” said Jamison. “I want this to become a legacy that we do every year and we want to spread the message that our events are not just centered for African Americans.”
The protests originated from the Black Lives Matter movement in 2012, which was the result of multiple and ongoing incidents of police brutality against the African American community. The BlackOut protests help bring awareness to those who lost their lives.