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College Students Speak Out About the BLM Movement

Empathy (noun):

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experiences of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

When the news of George Floyd’s death surged across the nation, the opinions of everyone, including Blacks, non-Black POC’s and whites, followed. And while I aim to speak up about the Black Lives Matter movement and stand up for equal rights, as a white female, sharing my own opinion isn’t my job right now. My job, as a journalist, however, is to project the voices that aren’t being heard loud enough. Although it’s encouraged for everyone to speak up, it’s also important to listen.

Protesters with \"End White Silence\" signs
Photo by Mike Von from Unsplash

As social media is a weapon to spread social justice awareness, I decided to ask questions on my Instagram story as a way for anyone to speak up about racism, police brutality, white privilege and everything in between.

1. What have you been feeling?

From Black Voices

“A lot of sadness and anger sometimes.”

“Overwhelmed, sad, angry, anxious.”


“Hope! People are coming together to promote positive change.”

From Non-Black POC Voices

“Annoyed. There is also a twinge of sadness for my Asian, Hispanic and Native brothers and sisters who never get spoken of.”

“Heartbroken and burdened. This tragic situation isn’t Jesus’ heart for anyone regardless of race, gender, etc. However, there is still hope and a call for action as we as a society need to take. Now is the time to pray, sign petitions, make people aware of the situation (educate), do your research about it too, etc. -i.e. it’s time to take peaceful action!”

“Anger and rage on behalf of the Black community. Although being Hispanic comes with its own degree of racial injustice and prejudice, I will never understand the Black experience. I will never know what it’s like to live in constant fear that I could be shot dead for the color of my skin. I’m also disappointed in many people I once considered friends. I have personally been surprised by a lot of people and their lack of empathy for the Black community.”  

“Pride in how a lot of people have been responding but horror at the governmental reaction.”

From White Voices

“Angry for Black Americans.”

“Incredible sadness and hurt. Helplessness despite being outspoken.”

“Grief for families who have lost loved ones through injustice.”

“A bit of guilt for not standing up and properly educating myself when issues arose in the past.”

2. How do YOU define white privilege?

From Black Voices

“The ability to choose not to see what hurts others because their own lives are doing well.”

“Being oblivious to the fact that there is privilege that society has placed.”

“White people having advantages in society over others based on skin color.”

“The simple fact of having the benefit of the doubt.”

From Non-Black POC Voices

“A societal privilege that benefits white people over races that are non-white.”

“White people not giving a voice to Black people because they’re so consumed with their own voices and opinions about Black lives that the voices of actual Black people get drowned out.”

“The ability to live life without worrying that the color of your skin will be the cause of your problems and suffering. This doesn’t mean white people don’t have difficult lives- it just means the color of their skin isn’t one of the things making it difficult.”

“The ability to do things without thinking about it, plus systematic privileges.”

From White Voices

“The way in which society is structured to inherently trust white people.”

“Being born into normalcy so that I do not have to worry about threatening a status quo.”

“I can get away with things my Black brothers and sisters can’t due to the color of my skin.”

“Having more and better opportunities, less likely to be marginalized because of skin color.”

3. What would you say to the Black community right now?

From Non-Black POC Voices:

“I want Black people to know that I want to hear them. That I want people to get off their phones and actually go into the world to see change happen. I don’t want others’ opinions to be shared but yours and then I want your opinion upheld. I’m on my knees praying for you and I’m praying for the nation.”

“We’re here for you, not trying to take away from you. We all face discrimination, but this isn’t a time for us to compete on who has it worse. It’s time for us to focus on the BLM movement like they would for us!”

“We stand with you, always.”

“There’s no possible way for me to know what you’re going through, however, you are so seen and known by Jesus. Therefore, to the best of my human ability, I will try to share the same heart as him.”

From White Voices:

“I stand with you and want to make sure you are heard first and foremost.”

“I have been an ally and will continue being one. I want to know what I can do better.”

“I want everybody to know all lives don’t matter until Black lives matter and I’ll continue to fight for equal rights!”

“I’m sorry I haven’t done more. I want to be better and I want to change.”

Protesters with Black Lives Matter/Black-Brown Unity signs
Photo by Mike Von from Unsplash

4. To the Black community, what would you say to white people right now?

“Not all Black people are anti-white or anti-police. I am anti-racism and anti-police brutality.”

“We’re not your enemy. We don’t hate you.”

“That all we want is love, support and protection now and forever.”

“It’s not ‘I hate white people’ it’s ‘Please support me during this time of need.”

5. And finally, for those who have been silent on social media about BLM, why?

“I’ve been silent because I don’t have social media; I think it accomplished nothing. Posting on social media and doing nothing is the same thing as staying silent. Instagram stories change nothing. All it does is down out the voices of people who actually matter.”

“I think for some people they fear being performative, which is why I chose not to post a Black square but focus on providing some resources instead.”

“I don’t use it, I needed time to pray and ask God for his point of view, sign petitions and look for other ways to take action.”

“I have stayed silent in terms of a feed post, but I want to say something. I dated a Black man from the ages of 13-19. He faced a lot of racism from students at our high school. I faced some as well due to dating him. It’s hard to watch the same people who were racist toward me now post about BLM. I hope they’ve changed and grown but sometimes I have doubts.”

To the Black community, from many who are beginning to recognize our privilege, although we are unable to empathize with you due to our lack of understanding and experience, we acknowledge your hurt. We’re learning to see the world through a different lens. We are learning to sympathize.

Sympathy (noun):

“Unity or harmony in action or effect.”

As we take action and unite, we may not understand, but we stand with you because Black lives matter.

Protester with \"Remember their Names\" sign
Photo by Donovan Valdivia from Unsplash

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Emily Allen is a student at Florida State University studying English editing, writing and media. She's from Orlando, but before you ask, she hasn't been to Disney since middle school. She's passionate about all kinds of writing and hopes to use it to inspire those around her. To find out more, you can follow her on Instagram @emily.allen.19