On Sunday, about 30 people gathered at Urbana Regional Library for another Black Lives Matter march through Urbana.
Lindzie Gordon, 17, who helped organize the Sunday protest as well as a prior protest in June, said the organizers felt it was important to meet again because the first two marches and other protests haven’t raised enough awareness.
“These people aren’t understanding,” she said. “We need to use our voices even more and make it even louder so that they can hear it. And it’s really just raising awareness because the most important thing at this moment is educating people.”
Gordon said that not all the feedback received after the June marches was positive, especially online.
“[Our community], is primarily white and with that comes white privilege, obviously,” she said. “I have white privilege just because I’m simply white and a lot of people don’t understand that and that’s where the problem lies. These people who are white, they don’t understand that they have privilege and they’re having trouble coming to terms with the fact that they do have privilege and that these African Americans are systemically oppressed.”
Examples of this oppression, Gordon said, include over policing in Black communities, unfair trials and sentences and several other things white people don’t experience.
“We’ve just been getting a lot of hate with people who don’t approve of the movement, which is hard for us to understand because, you know, we’re educated on the topic,” she said, adding that none of the marches have been violent.
Isabella Lowery, 17, who also helped organize the march said there has been positive feedback from the community but on social media people were angry.
“That absolutely does motivate me, at least, to want to participate more because if we’re facing that kind of feedback and we know that there are still people that have these racist ideals, that shows that we need to protest more, we need to do more,” she said.
Lowery said people need to know that they’re wrong and understand that it’s a privilege not to see racism in society.
“It’s not that it’s not there,” she said. “It’s that they have white privilege. And they need to see that.”
Gordon said she hopes the march Sunday gives African American people hope that people are fighting for change and that they have allies.
“I also hope that the people on the side of the street are understanding that this isn’t over and it’s not going to end and maybe raise more awareness so that they’ll come to the next march and get more people involved,” she said.
By coming out to protests and educating themselves, Gordon said people can influence change in places like the school system, where she said education about Black figures and Black role models is limited.
She said so far the only thing that’s been accomplished in the community is getting people to educate themselves. But that the county isn’t speaking out about enforcing rules about things like discrimination, a problem Gordon said exists in schools and needs to be addressed outside of “anti-bullying” measures.
Lowery said this wouldn’t be the last march and that she wants to keep up momentum as well as have a sense of unity in the community.
“I’m not black myself, but my best friend is and I want to be there for him to support him through all this and I’m sure that’s the motivation for a lot of other people that are here, so just to take away that we’re all in this together,” she said.
Like Gordon, Lowery said she’s hoping for changes in the education system, across the country but at least locally.
“I definitely want to see more about Black history and also current events,” she said. “I feel like people are just scared to talk about things.”
Gordon said police reform and defunding the police are also factors in ending systemic racism, which is the overall goal.
As for the role of young people in the Black Lives Matter movement, Gordon said they’re the future.
“Sometimes people can be stuck in their ways,” she said. “The young people who are straying from, you know, let’s say their family’s beliefs, and coming out and supporting this movement, those are the people that … in 20 years are going to be politicians and going to be in the workforce and we want those people to be educated … and that’s how everything’s going to change eventually.”
Lowery said she feels like the Black Lives Matter movement is predominantly young people and that their parents had the privilege to turn away from what was going on in society, but in the age of social media that’s not a possibility.
“We have to educate ourselves,” she said. “And it’s a decision. It’s a conscious decision you have to make to stay ignorant or do that extra work.”