Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

SU Students, Community Advocate for BLM Movement

Supporters march with their firsts raised high.

“We should dedicate time to doing one good thing every day,” said Haleema Bharoocha, a junior sociology major at Seattle University.

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  • Seattle U students traveled to Olympia for African American Legislative Day.

  • Marchers chanted with their fists raised high in solidarity with the black community and Black Lives Matter.

  • Three young boys hold the “Black Lives Matter” banner at the front of the march.

  • Supporters march with their firsts raised high.

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Bharoocha and eight other students went on an immersion trip in February to Olympia, Wash., to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, celebrate African American Legislative Day and attend a rally that advocated for a bill to change a few laws the group considers unjust. Moral Mondays at SU, the university’s #BlackLivesMatter Initiative, hosted the event.

Separately, a march for the Black Lives Matter movement took place in Seattle on Saturday. “BlackLivesMatter 2.0” wound its way through downtown, starting at Westlake Center. More than 18,000 people attended the march, according to the Facebook event page. Mohawk Kuzma, an organizer with the Black Liberation Front, according to The Stranger, said the march aligns with BLM’s economic justice platform, which calls for “a progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth.”

The immersion trip took place from February 17 to 20. During the trip, the students met with family members of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, who were shot by police in Olympia. The students heard their story and further understood why it is important to fight against systemic injustice.

Under current state law, in order for police officers to be convicted of the use of deadly force, there must be proof of malicious intent. Another law—the Blue Lives Matter bill—designates perceived threats and crimes against police as a hate crime, even if the act was done in self-defense. The group sought to amend laws like these.

On African American Legislative Day, the students held a panel to educate young people about the injustices that take place in our society and what can be done to stand up for the rights of all.

“It was wonderful to see children who were so articulate about political matters. It was also sad. We talked to 6-year-olds who were worried about their safety and aware of the threats imposed on them. But it was inspiring at the same time because the kids were so courageous,” Bharoocha said.

Another student who attended the immersion trip is sophomore nursing major Dominique Friz. She described the experience as positive, and helpful in many aspects of her life. The students did workshops to prepare for the immersion events and they learned a lot of valuable skills at these workshops.

“My favorite part of the immersion was definitely the creative workshops,” Friz said. “They did not only prepare me for the immersion, but also for other parts of my life. So many organizers burn out because this kind of work is taxing, but our organizers reminded us the importance of creativity, vulnerability and having fun.”

The workshop taught the students skills in alternative and fun ways. They learned about forward breathing through dancing, in addition to how to be calm, yet able to make their voices heard, in a rally.

The students also got to meet with the aide of Senator Rebecca Saldaña. Saldaña is a graduate of Seattle U, and she supports changing the unjust and discriminatory laws that are currently in place.

“I’m grateful that Saldaña is the representative for the 37th district; she is on the right side of history when it comes to changing the laws,” Friz said. “I liked getting to speak to her aide, who talked to each of us about our stake in the Black Lives Matter movement.”

This year was the first year that an immersion trip like this one took place, but the goal is to continue the work of the students and have another immersion trip next year.

Ariana Chini, Program Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, helped coordinate the immersion. She described the students as having a strong social justice lens and a desire to do something to address injustice.

Several of the students, including Bharoocha, will be speaking on a panel on April 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The panel, called “Report Back: #BlackLivesMatter Immersion,” will talk about their experiences on the trip, what they have learned and what students at Seattle U can do to be better allies and make an impact.

“I want more people to take action. We can all do something. That is how we can make real change happen—by uniting and stepping up,” Bharoocha said. “I hope the panel encourages students to take action and not be complacent.”

The immersion and the panel are just a starting point. The students plan to continue their work and advocating for what they believe in and encouraging others to do so, too.

“I’ve been framing my understanding of advocacy as existence as a form of resistance,” Friz said. “I want to honor my ancestors whose spirits are a form of resistance.”

Bailee may be reached at
[email protected]

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Seattle U students met with family members of Che Taylor, not of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, during the immersion trip. We apologize for this mistake.

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  • R

    Ricky Bobby
    Apr 23, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Not to be an ass.
    But andre and Bryson are still alive

    • S

      Sam Schultheis
      Apr 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you very much for letting us know of this correction. We apologize for the error and have updated the article.