Solidarity and Mental Health in the Education System

I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m tired. The systematic oppression and racism within our legal system have been highly functioning since the United States’ inception. Despite it being brought to light over and over again, the list of black lives lost to police brutality continues to grow. Then as the very people peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd go to the streets, those rightly protesting against police brutality, the police meet them with yet more violence. I watched as my own city police tear-gassed and shot at peaceful protestors just as looters and criminals were steps away. If I’m feeling this way I can’t imagine how an entire group of people who have faced discrimination for thousands of years must feel, and I understand that I will never understand. Despite this, I continue to do my part to serve as an ally in any way I can, and I will always proudly stand with the Black Lives Matter movement.

As I sat in my apartment that Sunday afternoon I could hardly hear the sounds of my own thoughts over the constant ambush of helicopters, sirens, and the occasional grenade bomb, nonetheless the sound of my economics lecture. No matter how hard you try to focus on schoolwork, it's hard to peel your eyes away as you watch your city being destroyed on the news, just steps from your home. Santa Monica is now virtually in a police state, with police presence everywhere and the sound of sirens all too commonplace. Curfews began at 2 pm in the afternoon. I can’t imagine the extent of this chaos in cities all throughout the United States.

Black Lives Matter Protest in Minneapolis

To add on top of this, we’re in a pandemic - jobs lost, families ill, and souls yearning for some sort of normalcy and connection. I’ve had to worry about an at-risk parent, my incredibly brave mom who’s busy kicking breast cancer's ass. Everyone is dealing with something in different ways, shapes, and forms. Everyone is dealing with an onslaught of emotions brought on by the recent events, and namely the lack of actions taken.

The world is moving at a million miles around us in a manner that almost makes no sense yet we’re expected to put all of this aside and somehow focus on solving math problems and writing essays. I’ve never felt so distant and distracted from school. It feels so impossible to prioritize school in such an extremely distressing environment, one in which we were already displaced and forced to learn at home. It’s important to note that right now you’re supposed to feel distracted. The entire purpose of this movement is to bring this issue to light, so front and center that nobody can turn their eyes away. The whole purpose is to take action, to educate yourself, to sign petitions, and to bring awareness.

The burden of being forced to focus on school work is even greater for black students, and I think this quote from a UC Davis petition circulating encapsulates it best: “After being made to feel that their lives don’t matter, Black students are still expected to focus on their studies and detach themselves from their emotion as the protests grow in our communities.”

I’m glad to see so many students resilient through these times. I’m proud to see so many young voices at the head of this important message and advancing this cause in a peaceful manner. Our generation continues to blaze on, and I hope for those feeling defeated or those feeling like they're losing stamina to dig deep down to finish this quarter strong. I’m confident at this point that we can survive anything, and that, in the process, we can change the broken system that we were born into. Especially in times like these it's vital to remember that education is one of our most essential weapons, and hopefully that inspires everyone to continue through their college journey’s with enthusiasm for the future that we’re shaping and most importantly with open minds willing to learn and adapt.

girl stressed at computer

While we go through the final days of the spring quarter, it’s refreshing to see professors making accommodations for students and showing immense understanding and empathy. They recognize the mental and emotional strain students are going through. It’s integral that professors show they stand with our Black student population at UC Davis.

I hope everyone goes the extra mile to be a little more caring and a lot more considerate during these times. Use your voice, and stand together with your peers for the Black Lives Matter movement.