A week after the death of George Floyd and amidst national and even international upheaval, the LMU Brothers of Consciousness organization set the goal of raising $20,000 for “organizations that are fighting for the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement and the promotion of its message — both on a local and national scale.”
In less than a week, the organization has raised more than double its original goal with the help of 40 different on-campus organizations.
Upon first hearing about Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, several members of Brothers of Consciousness (BoC) felt the loss of life on a personal level. BoC is an on-campus organization that encourages Black men at LMU to “strive to achieve brotherhood through unity, to empower the community through service, and to become a model of manhood through achievement,” and has 17 active members.
BoC co-president and rising LMU junior seeking an entrepreneurship and applied information management systems (AIMS) dual degree, Christian Jackson, says that his initial reaction was to “process [the situation] as individuals or as groups but not through our organizations.”
In the next few days, BoC’s other co-president, Dezmin Hemmans, a rising junior finance major, reached out to Jackson about putting out a statement for BoC on Floyd’s death. On May 30, five days after Floyd’s death, BoC posted a statement, writing that “the Black community in America has been raising its voice tirelessly against the systemic racism ingrained in the United States’ legal and justice system” and “it’s the actions we—along with our allies—take now that’ll assure that George Floyd and his family receive justice, along with the thousands of others affected by these tragedies. Rest in Power to them all, and may we work to prevent the loss of another.”
The statement also included a list of organizations to donate to, including bail funds and fundraisers for a number of Black Americans who have been killed in the last few months alone.
After this first response, the co-presidents’ next step was to organize an inter-organization meeting to allow the community to come together and grieve in collaboration with the Black Student Caucus. Over 130 community members joined the meeting.
Jackson says that “from there the idea of the fundraiser came about ... I whipped out that bingo deck that everyone at LMU’s campus has probably seen.” The “bingo deck” he is referring to is a digital graphic that encourages viewers to donate and to “[not] engage in performative activism.” It has since been widely re-posted on student social media accounts. One unique aspect of this strategy is that it allows individual on-campus organizations to choose what specific cause funds will be donated to, allowing those organizations to focus their efforts on a pro-Black initiative of their choice.
Jackson maintains that BoC does “not support any political figure, policy, party. That’s not what we do. What we support is action.”
Hemmans agreed, adding that “BoC is just supporting movements that help enfranchise people that have been disenfranchised, but also enabling everybody’s voice to be heard. I think what we are getting at is that the means to ending police brutality and systemic and systematic racism can be accomplished through different means, and at this time we are not supporting one specific way; we just want there to be a way.”
The co-presidents are working directly with the student leadership body to enact change on LMU’s campus. One suggestion they presented was that of creating a school-wide holiday on November 3, the day of the 2020 presidential election, to allow for students to be able to go to the polls without fear of missing class.
For both co-presidents, this movement is only just starting. Hemmans says that they are continuing to work to foster the partnership they have created with a number of organizations on-campus to create an “LMU community coalition” which can “build support around issues like this not only during times of tragedy but also when we go back on campus.”
For more information about donating, visit BoC’s website.