Kai Anthony & Kenton Gibbs
What comes mind to first when you think of the color black? Death ? Power? What about unity? Or elegance?
“Sadly enough black has negative connotation, but for me this black for me is almost like a funeral. It signifies mourning and grieving” said Achai Dent, a sophomore studying animal science and organizer of the blackout.
On September 23rd a sea of black shirts covered the red bricks of wolf plaza as North Carolina State University students of all different ethnicities, backgrounds and majors gathered for a student led blackout event in protest of the events that happened this past week in both Tulsa and Charlotte.
In both instances black men were killed by police. These events have led to an increased amount of unrest around the nation as well as in the communities where the incidents occurred.
The feelings of grieving, loss and injustice were shared by all people, which was made apparent by all of the different races and nationalities of those in attendance.
One woman even carried a sign that read “white silence costs black lives”. The fact that this sign was carried by an ally was very telling.
As an act of protest towards police brutality many people wanted their voices to be heard. The blackout functioned as that outlet for students.
The event began in Wolf Plaza with three different students speaking on their realities and what the changes they wanted to see in this country as well as on this campus. The three speakers had vastly different perspectives but still maintain a common goal.
Dent, who was distraught from the events in Tulsa became numb by the events that followed in Charlotte that Tuesday.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me” said Dent.
Dent organized the event as a way to bring awareness to the events and the address the problem
“It was so close to home,” said Dent “It can be so easy to look the other way” Dent shared some of her pain and struggle of being both an African American at a predominately white institution and being black in america.
“Our classes aren’t conducive to all types of learning or inviting to all audiences because they’ are color blind. And some seem to think having one diversity conversation for 50 minutes per semester is more than enough…more than enough!” Dent exclaimed.
Dent was then followed by words from Student Body Vice President, Brayndon Stafford. Stafford approached the audience not as the Student Body Vice President but as a black man and he encouraged that the members of the audience who are allies take the initiative by voting on all of the upcoming ballots.
“I’m tired of the desensitivity that we have because we are constantly getting oppressed. I’m tired of people not working. We have to get to work. How do we get to work? We have to vote. We have to vote. We have to vote. Not just the minority voting power the Millennial voting power. We are the new majority.”
The event also featured a voter registration area where students learned more about the upcoming election.
Following Stafford was Cidni Ford , who spoke on anger and angst of the black experience through a historical sense. “I can tell you the day my people became free in this country. It was in 1862. We’ve been free for over 150 years. Has there ever been a time where white people could calculate how long they’ve been free? No.”
After students spoke, the diverse group of students united to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as they approached the atrium of Talley Student Union for the final part of the event, the die-in.
The black shirts and pants covered the seal in talley as the participants laid across the floor in silence.
“We want to take a moment of silence and let the voices of the victims speak loudly,” said Stafford.
During the die-in all three speakers spoke again expressing their pain and the importance of this event not being the last one like it.
Following the silence, everyone rose and cleared the atrium. The event may have ended but Dent and many others have plans to make sure the war is won.
“Black signifies struggle but it also signifies perseverance, determination and overcoming” said Dent, “We still crawling but they can’t keep us down long!”