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If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the Black Lives Matter movement, or if you have the mind of an activist, read on! I recently had the opportunity of speaking with a fellow citizen from my hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan, about the movement. Myles McGuire, who is only 18 years old, has organized two Black Lives Matter marches in downtown Ann Arbor, worked on a panel with congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the police sheriff of Washtenaw county, and attended three Black Lives Matter marches. McGuire’s main goal is to promote peace, unity, and love.
In the United States, police brutality is an alarmingly dangerous issue that is often linked with racial profiling. The Black Lives Matter movement (or BLM) was created in 2012 after police officer George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. McGuire says this was the first case that made him realize he needed to stand up and talk about these issues. Martin’s case was not the first of unwarranted police brutality against black people, and definitely was not the last. McGuire advocates for speaking out about these injustices, and told me that the main objective behind his marches is to show people that if they use their voices, they will be heard. He aims to bring awareness to people that they can and should hold elected officials accountable for these injustices.
McGuire told me he didn’t know that his voice could have such a “positive and constructive” impact on his community, and that not enough people know how powerful of an impact they can have on their community. He also said that “the second someone becomes informed on these matters [such as the BLM movement, they’re] obligated to help.” We often get stuck in a situation where when a tragic event occurs, the nation goes silent except for the community that is directly affected. McGuire is a big proponent of unity, and said that if the nation were to start uniting “despite our labels” we could “break countless barriers” of injustice not only in the United States, but around the world. Some examples he gave include: islamophobia, racism, homophobia, and sexism. McGuire believes that privileged individuals hold the most power in educating others about these issues, and that informing citizens is a crucial component in moving forward towards a more peaceful world.
In his speech McGuire asks the crowd: “How are we being oppressed in a country we built?”When I heard that, I reflected on the great injustices African Americans and other minorities have endured in the United States for thousands of years. McGuire expressed that “140 characters and a hashtag is not going to end the division between us as people,” demonstrating the belief that it is not effective to just sit around and talk about issues. He argues that if this problem is to be stopped, everyone who supports positive change is obligated to get up and do something about it. What I learned from this interview with Myles was that if we all begin to speak out against issues we are passionate about together, we can initiate positive changes much more effectively.