"I like seeing something that we can all do and honestly being able to contribute and have a lot of people contribute. Yeah, it's really great." -Maya talking about the Black Lives Matter protests
Hi, I'm Jen Landis, founder of Pincurl Girls. And this is the GIRLBRAVE podcast. After the recent killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer hundreds and thousands of people all over the country have organized to March and protest against racial discrimination. Today, I talked to Maya, a young black college girl who marched and spoke at one of these protests. Here is Maya sharing her story.
Hi Maya, how are you?
Good. How are you?
Good. Thanks so much for being here today and talking to me on this GIRLBRAVE podcast. How old are you and what grade are you in?
I'm 20. I just finished my sophomore year at UNL biology, major biology major.
Do you know what you want to do with that after you graduate?
Hopefully med school will believe the longterm goal is an orthopedic surgeon.
We've had several protests here in Lincoln. How many have you been able to get to Maya?
I was there yesterday and then I was there not the day before that, but the day before that?
Can you describe what it's like to be there?
It's actually a really great feeling, like just being in that community and where everybody's there for, usually there for one goal. And so I'm like anything else and just, it's pretty peaceful and it's so nice. Like seeing something that we can all do and honestly being able to contribute and a lot of people contribute. But yeah, it's really great.
Did you stay for the whole day and the whole night?
I stayed for most of the day. I got there at around 4:30 and I left at 9:00 at curfew. Mom said I had to come home.
Yeah. Did you ever feel unsafe while you were there?
Oh, no, definitely not.
That's good. So you spoke last night?
I did. I did.
How did that come about?
Well it came about, we marched and then we sat in front of the courthouse and then a lot of people, I think it was Pam who took the megaphone and then she just said, we're going to have a couple of words and whoever wants to speak and speak of people spoke before me that also like marched with us.
Some random people came up, not random, but people that didn't march, they came up one, had a couple of words to say, I spoke, I don't usually speak. I was pretty nervous, but I had, I had things to say too. So, yeah.
So did you have your, what you wanted to say prepared or did it, were you just inspired?
It, it just came out. No, I was like, Oh, say I said, because I said, I just let everybody know, like how proud of them. I was just to like look around. There was a lot of people, they were sitting there just listening to people, speak and voice their opinion. And it was actually really nice. Just being able to listen to what a lot of people had to just say. They didn't really, no, they were going to speak. And it was just what was on their mind and how they were feeling and certain things they wanted to say to people, but, and anybody had the opportunity if they wanted to come up there, take the microphone, they cut up. So a lot of people did actually.
What did it feel like to have such a big platform and everyone listening?
It was scary at first, but then as I kept going through it, it was like, okay, well now I'm putting myself in this position and I have this time to speak and to reach people. And it was like, almost like I was thankful for the moment. And it was really nice to know that people were, I was having the opportunity to be heard.
Have you been outspoken in the past? Was this like the first time? And do you think this will change the way you present yourself in the future?
I think it'll probably change. Usually. I wouldn't say sit in the back. I would say I probably am more middle ground. And if I usually have something to say it's on Twitter, but I don't know. Like I usually get pretty shy, but now it's, it's just speaking. I don't know. I'll probably do it a little more in this view in a different way and not be as nervous, but
Wow, well, it's nerve wracking speaking in front of two people and 2, 20 or 2,000 people.
Exactly. And when you get up there and all these eyes are just looking at you, that's when it hit me. I was like, Oh, I lost my train of thought and everything...
That takes guts. So this, this, the name of this podcast is called GIRLBRAVE. And just hearing your story, you are very courageous, but I'd love to hear what your definition of being brave is.
I would say my definition of being brave, just off top of my head would be doing things that not a lot of people would think you personally would do or doing something that you didn't think you personally would do. Or even not even just doing certain things, maybe thinking certain things, but acting on them is actually a lot. Yeah. Actions do speak, you know?
Yeah. What can we do as the white community to help with the protest in this fight to end racial discrimination?
A lot of people say stand with us and I actually, I really agree with that. You can definitely use your platform in your privileges in a way that we can't a lot of things that people have done that like aren't black or white, they were at the protest to ensure our safety. They would stand in front of us or maybe like say certain things that would get us in that maybe wouldn't be as safe for us. And then another thing you can do is friends or family that maybe don't think along the same lines or think very different than you. Don't just a lot of times you want to, Oh, I'm done with you. You know, but what like you could do is I try to speak to them in ways that they wouldn't listen to us if we tried to speak to them and also try to like inform them in other ways as well.
The momentum that's building is so amazing. I just am excited to see where it goes.
Completely agreed. And last night when the officer kneeled with everybody and there are nine minutes of silence I would say it was definitely a step in the right direction, but that a lot of people are saying to him easily fooled, which is very true, but it was also a step in the right direction. And I say, we keep coming back until we get what we need.
Yeah. I was curious if, if that was his kneeling for nine minutes was, was looked at as, Hey, I totally believe you. Or if there was a little bit of skepticism to it.
Yeah. For me there's a little bit because it was just him and I don't know if that was because of safety on their end, but it was just him, you know? And I would have been more, I don't want to say one over by the, what I've looked at the situation a little differently. If there, if it wasn't just him, because it's not just one cop that's doing the killings, you know.
What was it like the night where the police were shooting rubber bullets and tear gas versus last night, which was peaceful?
I actually wasn't there when they were shooting those. So I don't really know, but I know when I was watching like snaps and stuff on my phone, it was scary, nothing else. And I was just so sad, but a part of me did want to be there with them because I'm there during the day. Like, I feel like I should be standing with the people that are standing there for the same cause hopefully, but also it was just fear. Like I hope I hope nothing but were okay. And then everybody made it home. I don't think, I think a lot of people got arrested. I, I know a lot of people got arrested. But I was just hoping for their safety, honestly.
Yeah. What do you think the difference was between the two nights?
I think the difference was there was more emphasis yesterday during the day on peace. There was just, there was a lot of emphasis the day that I was there, but yesterday it was okay. We, we got hit with rubber bullets. There's people here that we know that I got hit with rubber bullets that were serious injuries. And so then it was, I think even a lot of people's mindsets change. Okay. Well, my buddy just got hurt. I don't want to see that happen again. And let's just keep it peaceful please. And it was more, I would say more people as a whole just really, really don't want to see anybody else get hurt when we marched all the way from four hours all the way to how does it like 48th and O, and then we finally got their was back like, oh my gosh, that was a long way to walk!
And then, but I would like not losing numbers along the way too was wow. And people just coming to driving by and also showing their support, their honks, their high fives out their car and everything. And they were willing to stop and let us through. It was great.
Do you have friends in Omaha that marched?
Yeah, I do. I do. What was the vibe down there versus here in Lincoln?
It was a lot different. I heard it was a lot different, a lot less peaceful. Two of my friends actually during the protest, they they were driving back actually, and then police stopped them. There are four people in the car and then his story, what he told me, they got stopped. They said his taillight. I was out, but he just got the car, I want to say 2019. And he knew it was a taillight wasn't out and he doesn't smoke weed.
The cop said it smelled like weed. They made them get out of the car. They searched the car, it was four black guys. I don't feel like it was your normal cop stop. It just felt like there was an intent behind it and he didn't enjoy it because there was still stuff that was going on in an area that they weren't even next to you. They were coming out of. So I don't know. I just know that it was a completely different vibe from here in Lincoln.
I can't imagine how that would feel. What did they do?
What the officer told him, kept her hands up.
I also heard that there were snipers on the building down in Omaha.
Really? Yesterday, Maeve brought to my attention that there were snipers on the corners of the Capitol with their long range rifles or whatever. Probably the rubber bullets in them as well. That were well yesterday too. I forgot to add this. There was a rope that blocked up the steps of the Capitol and we were told not to cross it, but in the doors or officers. And then they were kind of laid back just watching us. But we were told they'd keep it peaceful if we gave like kept it peaceful as well. I think she's really didn't cross that line, but honestly, two girls did. I, I don't know if they actually crossed it, but they definitely charged out to the line. And then I think that's actually, when everyone's heart stopped, like they were like, Oh my gosh, what are they doing?
But then the door cracked open a bit that the officers were in and then some people stopped them. They stopped the two girls and they were like, yo, what are you doing? Get away from the line. And then everyone liked the situation. They escalated pretty well. But that was actually a really scary moment too, because we knew how many bride there was people up in the corners. There's people in the doors. There's people behind the Capitol on the other side that we weren't on.
Yeah. Wow. Where do you look when you need encouragement or recharged?
I would say elders. I have a I do like pop into certain people that I do look up to. Maybe not so much elders with people that are older than me. I have a friend, he's been through a lot of stuff. And we often talk about issues like this, or we just are able to call each other out. We don't have to talk every day, but when we do talk it's about these issues and stuff like that and how we can better each other and other people. So like speaking to them really, they also bring certain things to my, to me that I need to not always need to, but different ways that we can look at things as a whole.
Do you have any examples of something that you shared with?
It was about, I would say it was last year. I used to go to Morningside College and there's a lot of, I wouldn't, I don't want to talk about, about some of the students, but there's a lot of people that don't come from very diverse backgrounds and they have a lot to see. And then what, he's also a black and I didn't want to, when I first got there, I started to see that I didn't want to really continue to like interact with them, but he brought it to my attention that we are, I'm going to be there for a little while.
And sometimes these kids, they don't actually, they don't know like a lot of things that we maybe go through, but it's not our job either to tell them that. But sometimes that little push or that little, how would I say giving them some sort of knowledge or giving them a little bit of like push to go get that knowledge is all they need. And they can come back and be a different person and make it a better place for us as well. But I just wanted, I'd want to talk to him. I don't want to be, he gave me that.
How do you keep yourself positive?
Like a positive state of mind during these times being with friends, but being with friends at protests and also being at the protests that really brightens my day when I'm able to get off work or get out of the gym and be able to go in a place where I know I want to be, and everybody else wants to be. And spirits as a whole are very, they're low right now for regions. But when you get there and everybody just gets together and they're lifted, but also same positive by doing really like relaxing things. I'd paint like this little thing after every day, it's like a adult coloring book, but for painting, I do that too. And I go to the gym, well.
Maya has been great talking to you. Thank you so much for hopping on!
Thanks for joining us on the GIRLBRAVE podcast.Go to Pincurl Girls.com to hear more interviews with inspiring girls. And if you want to get on our daily texts list, go ahead and click the encouraging text tab at the top. We'll see you next time. Bye.