Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter- two statements that have become increasingly common in our everyday lives. But hearing these statements can lead you to question what inspired them and where is the opposite true.
Here at the University of Kansas, protestors gathered on Wescoe Beach dressed in all black, holding signs with photos of individuals whose lives have been threatened, taken, or disregarded because of their skin color or sexual orientation. Faces who to some may be strangers, but for others who recognize the faces as those shown on tv, online or elsewhere, connect with them on another level. These photos represent something much more personal.
The protest on Wescoe Beach was a live example that the struggle for civil rights is still ongoing and is an issue for individuals in our own community- particularly for trans people and people of color. The protest, prompted by the verbal harrassment of a trans student on the KU campus, was an effort to raise awareness about issues like harrassment affecting KU community members and having the larger population recognize that as far away as it may seem from the beautiful Lawrence campus, national discussions centered around the mistreatment of individuals based on gender identity and skin color are closer than we may realize.
The protest, organized through Facebook, was carried out in silence by participants, a choice which not only carries historical significance but can also serve as a point for those passing by to reflect upon. While we may be used to having people in our faces on the Beach handing us flyers or shouting about the need for us all to repent, the solidarity and presence of a wall of students gathered in silence presents to the KU community an alternate form of communication. One that doesn’t spell it out for you on a handbill that you’ll throw away, but asks the observer to reflect on what problems drove these individuals to collectively take action in a unique way.
But while some may have been well informed on the topic at hand that prompted the protest, there is still those interviewed that were not completely sure what to think about the protest or why it was happening- which potentially speaks to the larger goal of the protest:
If we don’t know what would drive this many members of our community to participate in an organized protest, then maybe we should reevaluate how well we know your community and whether or not the image that’s projected of our surroundings is really as it seems.