Opal Tometi, co-creator of Black Lives Matter and popular activist, encouraged Auburn students to organize with one another on campus to implement change needed to solve issues of oppression in American society.
Auburn’s Black Student Union hosted Tometi Tuesday evening in the Student Center Ballroom as part of its Black History Month event “Creating a Conversation in Color.” The Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013, that aims to end police brutality and systemic racism against black people.
Tometi got choked up when she discussed the famous instances of police brutality in recent years, from Eric Garner and Philando Castile to Freddie Gray and Mike Brown, all cases of unarmed black men being killed by police officers.
“I worry quite literally for the black folks in the U.S. who are literally being murdered in the street, on camera, millions can see the video, and yet we see time and time again, no justice,” Tometi said.
Tometi said college students have a lot of resources at their fingertips — resources they should use to change the state of race relations in America.
“I’m really, really nervous where this whole thing is headed,” Tometi said. "You look anywhere and we’re not necessarily seeing things get any better. I would say that they’re probably getting worse.”
Tometi said the roots of her activist mindset can be traced to when her younger brother started to question his identity and feel shame about his race
“It sparked something in me in
Tometi said people should reach out to those who are willing to listen but discouraged them from working with others who do not care about listening or doubt them.
“To me, when people respond to Black Lives Matter by saying all lives matter, yes I kind of roll my eyes, not because I can’t believe it’s happening, but because I am so frustrated and so disturbed that people would respond to me as if I’m saying black lives are superior to other folks,'” Tometi said.
Tometi said Black Lives Matter was a movement created as a response to systematic oppression that began during the Regan, Clinton
“To be clear, Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement,” Tometi said.
Tometi said the U.S. should do more to invest in
“It is not your responsibility to convince people of your humanity,” Tometi said.
The best way to transform the system is to organize, Tometi said. She said there’s no
“There’s this phrase that you got to be at the table, to have a seat at the table and it’s like sometimes it doesn’t hold so you might have to grab your seat at the table, or you might have to question the existence of the entire table itself, which is kind of where I’m at,” Tometi said. “Let’s flip the table over.”
Tometi said she’s seen oppression first-hand, growing up in Phoenix, Arizona. She said her dad even had to get rid of the family car because of such frequent racial profiling.
Tometi studied history at the University of Arizona, where her research began. She said she studied the Holocaust and saw parallels to the
“We know what’s right,” Tometi said. “We know we’re righteous. We know when the history or herstory books are written, we’re going to be on the right side of that so we just have to stay true to our convictions.”
Tomteti’s three pillars — faith, joy
Tometi explained the meaning of the three pillars. She's rooted in her Christian faith, which guides the work she does today. Joy is a person’s expression and the core of humanity, and justice is a way that people display their love.
Tometi was asked about her thoughts on Black Panther, a recent movie praised for its portrayal of a black superhero.
Tometi said she loved that the movie gave the message that it is okay to be proud to be black person. She loved the thought experiment of what a world would be like without colonization, she said.