Kindeya Chiaro is a senior at Adelphi University and currently studies political science. Kindeya is the Vice President of Black Students United, a resident assistant, and an assistant in the Political Science Department. She is also a part of the Racial Justice Alliance and the Collaboration Project. Kindeya and a few other students from Adelphi University organized protests to help promote and support the Black Lives Matter Movement and injustices happening in America. I had the pleasure to interview her and have an inspirational conversation with her. Kindeya: Overall, positive. I have had the best experiences of my life here at Adelphi. I have had some challenging times, however, and last semester was definitely one of them. Particularly, in regards to a lot of events that took place in response to the Midnight Madness Protest. There have been challenging times, but overall a very positive experience.
Liz: Can you tell me more about what exactly happened during Midnight Madness? Kindeya: Of course. Myself and a few others organized a student life protest at our university’s annual Midnight Madness, which is a pep rally. It was a peaceful protest. We sat in one section of the bleachers. During the National Anthem, we sat with our fists raised which was a popular peaceful protest started by Colin Kaepernick. His protests stemmed from police brutality and the injustices surrounding that. Being a major-league football player, there are not many opportunities for him to become involved and that was one way he could protest about what was happening. Students around different universities started sitting during the National Anthem and following his lead with that protest. People participated in that protest for different reasons but that is where it originated from. We all stayed at the event and enjoyed ourselves. No one said anything to us while we were there, which we were not expecting. We were expecting backlash at the event.
Picture taken at Midnight Madness October 2016.
Liz: You didn’t receive any backlash at all? No one came up to you?
Kindeya: No one came up to us at all. We thought we may have heard one “Boo” while it was happening but that was really it.
Liz: I wasn’t at Midnight Madness, so I am glad I asked you to tell more about what happened. I did hear stories about it, but I did not know exactly what happened during the event.
Kindeya: Personally, I can’t speak for everyone that participated in the protest, but I know that no one came up to me nor the rest of the people I usually talk to. No one came up to us during the event, but it was online and on social media where we had a lot of backlash. People were saying very negative statements and statements that were just misguided or incorrect about the protest and what we were doing. People made comments such as calling us “scum of the Earth” and “swine.” Someone threatened they were going to spit in our faces and find us on campus.
Liz: Where exactly were these comments and statements made??
Kindeya: They were made on Facebook, so it wasn’t even an anonymous site. People were comfortable making these statements and comments with their name attached to it, which is huge. My friend Maya uses an analogy that Adelphi has become a fishbowl. It looks clean and shiny…but you move all the rocks in the bottom, and all the dirt and grim come up. Midnight Madness shook Adelphi’s fishbowl; and all of the racism and bigotry came up. Tons of people commented on multiple posts saying we should go back to Africa and Mexico, that we were the same people that don’t do anything and collect welfare.
Liz: If I am correct, some of the people in the protest weren’t even African American or Hispanic…they were just a part of the protest and standing up for the movement?
Kindeya: We had tons of allies there! People from the Latino Student Association and just people who wanted to stand up for the movement. Black Lives Matter is an all-encompassing movement. You don’t have to be black to be a part of the movement, all lives can’t matter until black matter lives matter.
This picture is from Kindeya’s involvement in the JFK protesting the Muslim Ban.
Liz: I have witnessed people around campus disagreeing, fighting, and judging others for their views and opinions. As long as everything is peaceful, there should be no reason for anyone to disrespect, judge, or threaten because of a peaceful protest or view. It’s disgusting to watch and hear this all take place. Where is the peace?
Kindeya: I think why so many people get so argumentative about Black Lives Matter and about the actual phrase itself…is because just saying Black Lives Matter holds a mirror up to America. In order for this movement to be successful, people have to understand and recognize that Black Lives currently don’t matter and haven’t mattered historically. I think that shakes some people, it can make them nervous and uncomfortable. They don’t want to see that. They love America. People sometimes say that slavery happened such a long time ago, why are we still talking about this? People need to recognize that America’s past is contributing to the system and institutionalized racism that we have everywhere in our society. I think many people don’t want to be challenged and do not want to accept what we are standing for.
Liz: What do you hope for in the future after the protests and standing up for Black Lives Matter?
Kindeya: I want people to challenge themselves and to challenge the way they think. I want people to challenge everything surrounding their life. I went to Catholic school and I was raised in a liberal family. Catholic schools are typically conservative and republican. Going to Catholic school challenged me because I was constantly surrounded by views that were different from mine and I didn’t always agree with what they were saying most of the time. I realized I also wanted to do research, because I can’t hold an argument if I don’t have facts. I need facts to back-up my argument and support what I’m saying.
Liz: Many people read one article on Facebook or on a form of social media and they immediately think they know all the facts or what is happening. I totally agree that going to reliable sources and doing research is needed in order to educate ourselves; rather than read one article and start writing negative statements or comments on social media.
Kindeya: One of the downfalls of social media is the fact that people see what they see on social media and they don’t conduct any further research. We all will click an article that is trending on social media, which is okay but we must conduct research and use reputable sources to really understand what is going on. We have a president and a current administration that are constantly attacking the press and people can use fake news (not reputable news stations or sources) as a base of reliable sources. Freedom of the press is a fundamental part of our democracy.
This picture is from Kindeya’s involvement at Decolonize This Place fighting to end the occupation of Palestine.
Liz: What other protests have you been involved with? On and off campus?
Kindeya: I attended a huge protest the Saturday after the election in New York City. It was a Not My President protest. There were so many people, not as much as the Women’s March… but it was up there. We marched about 3 hours from Union Square to Trump Tower. It was quite the march and a great experience! This past weekend, I went with my friend Brian to JFK and we protested for over 8 hours nonstop. It was easily the coolest thing I’ve ever done. We protested the Muslim Ban. Getting out there and getting your voice heard is huge! We blocked traffic for hours, civil disobedience is incredible and gives us the power to show what we are standing up for. It gives a message that we are not going to let our democracy die or let anyone be targeted. People have been protesting for a very long time, this is nothing new. It can be frustrating to see that it took this long for people to see what is really going on in America. We need warriors and we need people who are going to not only stand up for yourself and your family, but for other people.
Liz: It is difficult. But a warrior is someone who will stand up for what they believe is right and what needs to be changed…knowing that people are going to respond with very negative backlash, but be able to keep their chin up and keep on fighting
This picture is from the Not My President march outside of Trump Tower.