NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.--
As the Black Lives Matter movement has become more prevalent through the spring and summer months, Westminster has been clear and intentional in their efforts to support minority students. But it’s not enough according to Jasmine Woodings, a junior English major.
Woodings believes that Blue Lives Matter is a response to the movement, stating “(Blue Lives Matter supporters) took it personally when we started saying black lives matter because we weren’t saying white lives matter.” She shared that the Blue Lives Matter movement feels threatening to people of color. “What they don’t realize is that we live through this every single day. Cops can go home, and they can take off their uniforms; they can quit their jobs and go find a different occupation. But we wake up black every day.”
She also shared her experiences with racism on campus, “I never experienced racism in my life before I came to this school, and it’s not blatant racism…but I can tell that people look down on me. And I can tell that people look down on my friends, who are people of color, just because of how they talk, or how they move—how they present themselves. But nobody wants to put in effort in getting to know why we’re like this… You’ve got to have your guard up 24/7…because you don’t know who’s racist.” Woodings addressed the fact that most students at Westminster come from small, rural areas with little diversity, which likely contributes to the racism issue on campus.
“Racism is so unconscious that people don’t realize when they are being racist. But it can be as simple as choosing to talk to the white person…rather than choosing to talk to the black person. We naturally (are attracted to) people that look like us. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.” Woodings recommends taking the implicit bias test. “Personally, that’s how I started to change the way I act around people… I started to notice who I choose to talk to versus who I kind of subconsciously slide past.” Woodings also encourages students to take a more direct action and vote in the upcoming election.
Woodings wants students of color to use their voices on campus. “It’s not like people know that we’re struggling just by looking at us. We have to say something.” Many students have taken to social media. Woodings shared that while social media posts are helpful, they’re not reality. People often read things on social media and forget about them. She wants students to educate themselves outside of social media because “it’s not where our voices are most effective.”
Many students have learned about black history through high school history classes. Woodings shared that these courses don’t tell the full story. “You can’t force people to want to learn our true history when they’ve already been taught our fabricated history.” She wants people to start by “looking up how presidents have done us wrong, and go from there…If you want to start somewhat contemporary, you can start in the 1930s and just go all the way up until now.”
The end of racism can start with Westminster students. All students are welcome to join BSU (Black Student Union). Woodings stated, “That’s where we have conversations…about how we feel on campus and how the government system has failed us for years.”
Students can also attend SGA’s Civil Dialogues to hear about fellow peers’ experiences. The next Civil Dialogues will be held on Friday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. Dialogues are held each month with different topics; this month’s event focuses on LGBTQ+ issues. The event will be held virtually. Click here to register.
Westminster will be hosting a Black Lives Matter March on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m. at Anderson Amphitheater. The march welcomes anyone who wishes to participate. Supplies will be provided to make signs. The event will also feature guest speakers. Donations will be accepted for The Innocence Project. This march has been organized by Westminster sophomore, Journey Washington.
Most of all, Woodings wants people to “be mindful, and be sure you’re thinking for yourself.”