Blue Lives Matter Flag: controversial, advocating, and triggering.
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement taking place around the country, Blue Lives Matter found its way into the mix — starting in 2014 — and has continuously been a topic of discussion since.
The flag is meant to be a countermovement towards the Black Lives Matter movement, and stands for the honor and courage of fallen police officers who have served this country.
As for many others, the flag is seen as a statement of racism, hate, and injustice.
The University of Redlands Football team has astounded the Redlands community with wins, both home and away. Although they have done much to bring victory to our community, an issue was left in the shadow during their away game against George Fox in Oregon. The team had walked onto the home teams stadium with a Blue Lives Matter flag while making their way to the field before the game started. Jeff Martinez, Director of Athletics addressed the issue in an email:
“At the University of Redlands, our commitment is to support those who seek to expand their minds and skills, find their passion, and contribute to society and the world. In keeping with that mission, we look forward to continuing dialogue about current issues in a manner that complements our core values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and understanding. In the meantime, to avoid any confusion about these values, only the American, California, and Redlands flags will be carried onto the field by our athletics teams.”
I interviewed Justice Fernandez Williams, third-year Johnston student and Treasurer of Black Student Union (BSU) about the act, which he addressed as “hostile.” Williams opened up about his own personal conflicts with the University of Redlands and the lack of voices being heard about this matter. He argues, “Police brutality is like the new modern-day genocide,” and yet a flag that creates chaos in a political manner was brought into a community of so-called liberal ideas. Williams’s mother, who advocates for education about discrimination and police brutality, confronted the University with her concerns, which resulted in the University no longer letting the football team fly the Blue Lives Matter flag during games. The University of Redlands page of Inclusiveness and Community states, “No matter who you are, you’ll fit in here,” and it felt as though the voices of the minority were not being taken into account.
Williams also wishes to bring awareness about the Black Student Union, which is a place where “students come together to create a safe place for conversation and to be and exist and not have to worry about other people’s biases.” The need for voices on campus is important, and the rise in the number of diverse voices can bring huge impacts to the community. As Williams mentions, this would be not only for the Black students on campus, but for everyone in the community to make Redlands an “accessible place.” BSU meets every Tuesday in the CDI lounge, first floor Hunsaker back room, from 6 pm to 7 pm
The University of Redlands Mission Statement states that it welcomes “intellectually curious students of diverse religious, ethnic, national and socioeconomic backgrounds,” yet the Black community makes up 5.52% of campus. The U of Redlands community, supposedly learning and living in a so-called liberal environment still has much to learn about safe space practices for its minority communities. This was written to open the conversation up about our freedom of speech as well as give ground to the silenced voices on campus.
Personally, I believe attending a University that prospers on its community of liberal ideology and inclusivity brings together a group of people despite their political/cultural views. The football team stepped over this boundary of respect towards the community’s individual beliefs and teachings, and many are baffled by this act. However the issue was dismissed and the football team will no longer be carrying the flag out during the games. The issue still arises: how far will things go until the University will stop it?
[hr gap=””] Photograph by Shawn Lohman for Go Redlands.