by Tramon Lucas, Managing Editor
“Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter,” is one of the most controversial debates to shake up conversations over the last couple of years.
BLM is not only a phrase; it is a movement to bring awareness to issues that African-Americans face today, whether it comes in the form of the average racist or the mistreatment from those sworn to protect and serve or anything in between.
The ALM statement shoehorns its way into the discussion mostly out of fear and miseducation on the issues. When ALM supporters hear “Black Lives Matter” they think that immediately denounces value of any other life that isn’t black, which is not the case according to the official website.
Regardless of what side one stand on, the BLM vs ALM debate found its way to Morgan State University this fall after one bold statement made by Mr. Morgan himself. The overall discussion, regardless of whether or not students were in favor, sent shockwaves of reaction through the student body and alumni alike. It’s with that same impact that landed Andrew F. Mitchell as a runner-up for The MSU Spokesman’s Morganite of the Year.
Mitchell, a senior physical education major, is currently serving as the 28th Mr. Morgan for the 2016-2017 academic school year at MSU.
“Black lives won’t matter until they matter to us as black people. ‘All Lives Matter’ is this statement not true? How about we stop being ignorant and start thinking for ourselves,” said Mitchell in a caption on an Instagram post added to his page in October.
The caption was accompanied by Mitchell posing in a shirt that read “All Lives Matter,” on the post.
“Let’s not be stuck on what to think but rather how to think. Let’s all be colorblind and find solutions,” he added as he ended the post “Signed-Mr. Morgan the 28th.”
Mitchell’s comments came after the University’s electronic signage affirmed MSU’s stance on BLM.
The initial wave of backlash didn’t come on that day, but with the following two days, as students, alumni and surrounding HBCU communities took to social media to express their views of on the statement made by Mitchell.
The backlash was mixed: some called it a bad PR move, others didn’t understand overall and some supported the idea.
In an interview with HBCU Digest’s Jarrett Carter, Mitchell explained what he meant to accomplish with his actions.
“With that shirt, I intended to strike controversy, but also I wanted people to be aware that all lives do matter. I really do not agree with the fact that it has become a battle between all lives matter and black lives matter,” responded Mitchell in the interview. Mitchell went on throughout the interview to address the issues in the black community which also served as inspiration to spark up conversation.
The responses Mitchell received were so severe that MSU president David Wilson issued a statement in a campus wide email.
“I am aware of the reaction from many of you, and this morning, I had a rather lengthy and productive conversation with Mr. Morgan to seek to understand his viewpoints,” said Wilson. “I hope you can take him at his word that his comments were misunderstood, and that they were designed only to inspire a larger debate about the state of the Black community with regard to a number of issues—policing, personal responsibility, education, crime, unemployment, and youth development, to name a few.”
Wilson also addressed the idea that the reaction was bordering cyber-bullying.
“With the above said, I must say that I’m disappointed in the tone and nastiness that I’ve seen on social media in response to some of the ideas expressed by our student leader,” he said. “Some of what I’ve seen is bordering on cyber-bullying, and I implore you to stop it.”
Following Wilson’s comments, there was a “Conversations with Mr. Morgan” event held on Oct. 12, where Mitchell addressed the students, faculty and staff in attendance. The room was nearly standing room only as students took their time to express their views and offer solutions to Mr. Morgan about how to go about sparking conversations on race using his platform.
Mitchell’s actions were seen and heard throughout the HBCU community, for better or for worse. A student leader, voted in as the face of his HBCU made a comment to stir up a conversation about the black community and the role we play in it, and indeed that conversation was had.
As of late, though, the campus has been rather quiet on this issue for the last two months. With the exception of organizations, students and faculty that address race and injustices in their own way, nothing has really changed; there was no real follow up.
Through all of the controversy, criticism and praise, the question remains; was there supposed to be more, or was the discussion the point of it all?