November 23, 2020

Webster professor spends every week protesting for Black Lives Matter

Associate professor Amanda Kracen has attended Black Lives Matter protests for the past 22 weeks. Kracen has also helped plan these events with her community and church.

It is week 22. The heat doesn’t matter. The cold weather doesn’t matter. The anti-protesters with bullhorns don’t matter. For Dr. Amanda Kracen, all that matters is standing with the community and supporting Black Lives Matter.

Kracen has planned and attended a Black Lives Matter protest for 22 weeks consecutively as of Oct. 24. The protests began because of George Floyd’s death.

“George Floyd’s murder was horrific and was incredibly public and I think I was feeling very helpless in the days afterwards,” Kracen said.

An associate professor in the department of psychology, Kracen has planned these protests with the help of her church and community.

“I didn’t want it to be a flash in the pan. I mean, this wasn’t like we show up once and we’re like, ‘oh, that’s it. We’ve done our duty,’” Kracen said. “When there’s not huge news stories, we’re still there.”

A community member comes out to support Black Lives Matter at Amanda Kracen’s weekly protest spot–Kingshighway and Waterman. This protest occurred just a few days before the general election. Photo by Logan Nguyen.

Kracen brings her children as often as they are able to attend. Most of the time they happily join, but she stresses the importance of attending even when they don’t want to.

“They need to realize that we do things, even when it’s difficult if it’s in service of what we believe,” Kracen said.

The protests have been used for other important causes.

“I think we’re in a time in our country where people are dying for multiple reasons due to systemic racism and multiple reasons. And so that’s a time that you know we can’t hide behind political beliefs,” Kracen said. “I think even more so when we have a leader who is kind of fomenting beliefs about hatred. I’ve always thought that our communities, our societies are strongest when we elevate and support some of the most vulnerable. I think in this political climate people are even more vulnerable.”

Along with Kracen, multiple Webster University faculty continue to attend the protests. At week 22, six faculty members joined.

In an email, Webster University’s chief diversity officer, Vincent C. Flewellen explained why it is important for Webster staff to attend Black Lives Matter protests and why they should do more.

“I believe that it is primarily most important for whites to prioritize and consistently commit to an examination of their own unconscious racism, entitlement and unexamined racial privilege,” Flewellen said. “I believe planning and/or attending Black Lives Matter protests is one way to demonstrate their support and solidarity against racism and police violence to the movement and the Black community.  But I also believe that it is critically important for whites to stay active after protests by showing up in support of the movement and the Black community by engaging in anti/racism work with other white people.”

Flewellen said white people need to talk to other white people about how they benefit from systemic and personal racism. He compared this to how dismantling sexism is the work of men, not women.

The protests will continue at Kingshighway and Waterman until Nov. 7, Kracen says, to either celebrate or to commiserate the results of the election.

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