Jasmine Abdullah got involved with the Black Lives Matter movement because she was tired of burying her friends.

“I will fight for everyone. I will fight injustice everywhere. Why? Because it is my duty to fight for you,” Abdullah said.

BLM activists Abdullah, from Pasadena, California, and Lex Scott, from Salt Lake City, discussed issues of social justice and the history of the BLM movement on Feb. 28.

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Senegalese author Mariètou Mbaye Biléoma, pen name Ken Bugul, in March 2010 (Wikimedia Commons)

The event was organized and hosted by Aimee Urbine, president of Amnesty International; Myla Anderson, coordinator for Students for Choice; and Serena Posluszny, the cultural connections chair on WSUSA’s diversity board.

“We wanted to bring attention to the issue of social justice and help bring awareness to the lack thereof in our society, in Ogden and on campus,” Posluszny said.

Scott, organizer of the BLM movement in Utah, said the purpose of the event was to educate and inform people of problems Utah continues to face.

“We want to unite the community. We want to not only empower folks but to uplift them,” said Abdullah.

The two led a discussion on various topics that directly affect our community today, including police brutality, bullying in schools and the importance of standing up for one another.

“Take yourself out of yourself for someone else,” Abdullah encouraged attendees, “because we’re all in need of people right now, we’re all in need of love right now, we’re all in need of empathy.”

Scott discussed many ways Utah has improved in different aspects. The BLM group has been working with various police departments, including the Ogden and Salt Lake police departments, for the past two years, and are seeing major changes already.

According to Scott, there are many changes that still need to happen, but small steps are being taken to ensure proper training for police departments, including guidance in handling situations that could lead to shootings and involving more diversity in hiring practices.

With continuous momentum from BLM, the number of police shootings in Utah has remained at zero since the beginning of the year.

“The world will listen to us, and they will see what we have been doing here in Utah,” Scott said.

“We’re building and growing the state, and we are not going to allow black kids to get bullied in the state,” Scott said. “We are going to protest every police brutality case that we hear about, and we are going to sue.”

The BLM movement continues to confront school boards, police departments and anyone willing to stand in their way, and they’re “not going anywhere,” according to Scott.

“We’re not here just for police brutality. We’re here for a mother that don’t have her baby. We’re here for a child that is born with depression, anxiety, and don’t know how to get that out. We’re here to make sure that these kids get everything that they need to be ok,” Abdullah said.

Encouraging college-age students to stand up and fight for their rights, Abdullah said, “Think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Don’t do it for yourself.”

Weber State student Eduardo Diaz-Vela said he attended the event to hear something he could relate to and hear a conversation that needs to be talked about.

“I think we need more events like this. I think a lot of people feel kind of awkward talking about this stuff, and so things like this are really powerful,” Diaz-Vela said.

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Posluszny said, “Everybody’s reality is different, everybody’s experiences are different, and that is what people need to acknowledge and think about.”

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