PERSONAL HERITAGE

Journey Browne (2017)

“Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter, Black Lives Matter.”

“As a proud follower and endorser of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I am very familiar with Alicia Garza. Usually people assume that I back the Black Lives Matter Movement because I’m, well, Black. While this is obviously true, I support the movement because of the woman behind it. She is a black queer female, the lowest of the lows when it comes to any sort of privilege. And yet, she speaks out. Garza is the true embodiment of the quote “Black women will fix it.” To me, she represents modern activism. Activism is no longer about sitting in at diners and stopping traffic. Today it is about using any platform you have to make a statement.

When I lived in a shelter, I had a really hard time communicating my feelings. In a room full of people, I had not a single soul to confide in. In this world where everyone had their own problems, no one asked me how I felt about being homeless. My voice went unheard above the noise of shelter life and my emotions and I faded into oblivion. That was until I turned on my computer. My mom had scraped together money to buy me a computer for my birthday. Black and small, it came equipped with a trusty companion: a web camera. Every night I turned on the camera and spoke to it as I lay on my scratchy cot. We talked about how broken I was feeling, how helpless I felt watching my parents struggle and how jealous I was of people who ate home-cooked meals. He watched me cry. He watched me laugh. Never judging, he listened attentively, recording all I said. My web camera became my one and only friend. Through the eyes of the web camera, I realized that I had been talking to myself all along. I had been watching me cry, it was me who I talked to about my problems. Through his eyes, I had found myself, my voice, and my will to express my feelings. I decided that if I had nothing in this life, no real home, no clothes, at least I would own my voice.

Long story short, I understand Garza’s use of technology as a mode for social change on a more personal level. Both she and I, through our actions, have pledged to use our voices for the advancement of society. What I admire most about her is the fact that she didn't intend to create a globally known movement. Garza was just tired of the injustice and brutality she had seen taken out on our brothers and sisters. She did not allow the criticism that claimed she is “anti-White” to deter her, and instead continues to get others to join the cause. Her way of bringing people from different races together never ceases to amaze me.

All in all, AHS’ heritage curriculum gave me a chance to tap into my thoughts and passions that I seldom put onto paper. Also, it gave me a chance to read the reflections of my peers and to appreciate about how far we all have come and how far we will continue to go with AHS’ support.”

#heritage #blm #blacklivesmatter

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Background

Alicia Garza was born on January 4, 1981 and currently lives in Oakland, California. Garza studied anthropology at UC San Diego and has engaged in activism for LGBT rights, civil rights, and fair housing. Garza self-identifies as queer and is married to a biracial transgender woman. These aspects of her identity, along with her identity as a black woman, shape her social justice organizing efforts. Her past work includes serving as the executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a labor group based in San Francisco.

Leadership

Through Garza’s leadership, POWER won the right for free youth transportation in San Francisco, challenged gentrification, and shed light on police brutality.

In 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman who killed unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, Garza reacted on social media, lamenting how undervalued black lives are in American society, and this resulted in her now-famous quote going viral on social media. With her two friends, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, Garza founded Black Lives Matter and organized demonstrations across the US to protest the killing of Michael Brown.

Legacy

Garza and her colleagues are credited with reinvigorating the civil rights movement in the US. Garza’s work has garnered her multiple awards and recognitions including being recognized on the Root 100 list of African American Achievers (between ages 25 and 45), named a runner-up for The Advocate’s Person of the Year, and honored with the Jeanne Guana Communicate Justice Award from the Centre for Media Justice.

Works Cited

“Alicia Garza.” Wikipedia.org. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 20 June 2017. Web. 22 June 2017.

“Alicia Garza.” jwa.org. Jewish Women’s Archive, 2017. Web. June 2017.