Activist’s campus visit yields mixed reactions

Feb 9, 2017

A Black Lives Matter activist, social justice educator and equal rights demonstrator spoke at Northwest at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Charles Johnson Theater.

Janaya Khan is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, and has become a leading voice in the global crusade demanding social transformation, justice and equality, according to their website.

Khan identifies as a black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist, staunch Afrofuturist, boxer and social-justice educator. In their lecture, Khan wants to discuss how people are affected by inequality and describe their individual work as a social justice advocate.

The Maryville Daily Forum released an article about Khan’s visit Jan 27. and shared the corresponding article on Facebook. Followers of the page shared mixed reactions upon hearing that Black Lives Matter activist was coming to Northwest.

“Sad that crap pretty much started in Ferguson,” wrote one Facebook user. “Media fanned these flames. Northwest… wow, I would think this would seriously hurt their reputation.”

Comments skyrocketed as supporters and critics of the lecture argued.

“I just can’t believe what I am seeing,” said another user. “This really breaks my heart. How could you say this is a hate group? It’s not. They didn’t advocate killing the men and women in blue. We want black lives to be viewed on the same level as every other race of people.”

Northwest Senior Korbin Jones believes that given the time and area Maryville residents are living in, it is important for Northwest to be including a lead figure from the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think what we need most is for the marginalized to have their voices amplified, and SAC is doing a great job at doing that by having Janaya come and speak,” Jones said. “As someone who grew up in the area, I really hope those from the surrounding communities come and listen.”

Jones said people need to start listening to logic and begin attending these types of events for change to occur.

“This is an overwhelmingly white area, especially when not considering the student population. Such issues tend to go overlooked due to their lack of proximity to those who live here,” Jones said.

Northwest Sophomore Lauren King hopes that the people of Northwest see what the goal and purpose of Black Lives Matter after Khan’s visit.

“The Black Lives Matter movement’s goal is to raise awareness to the excessive amount of blacks killed here in the U.S.,” King said. “I have not personally come across anyone who feels negative about Khan’s visit. If there are, I hope that they take this opportunity to learn about the movement and discuss their concerns in a peaceful manner.”

Khan, an accomplished lecturer and author, has had their writing featured in “The Feminist Wire,” “The Root,” Huffington Post “Black Voices” and “Al Jazeera.”

“Afrofuturism has a tendency to look back at history and the past, to situate itself in the present that is actually a future,” a quote on their website says. “It often focuses on a black protagonist as the storyteller…If we focus on and empower the most marginalized people in a space or in a group or community, and if they have what they need, then everyone has what they need.”


Published February 9, 2017@TheMissourian

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