As calls for change swept around the world after George Floyd’s death, a group of students formed Macalester’s Black Lives Matter chapter (BLMatMac) to mobilize around racial justice. By early June, the group was coordinating a donation drive—led by co-organizers Fatiya Kedir ’21 and Floyd Krom ’21—to support students and the broader community affected by a spike in food insecurity. “After all of our planning, we had no clue what to expect,” Krom says. “One car could’ve shown up.”

What actually unfolded on June 21, in Kedir’s words, was “overwhelming and amazing levels of support.” Despite afternoon downpours, the group collected nearly 4,000 items and $3,000 with help from 180 volunteers. “We even had to turn volunteers away to maintain safe social distancing,” Kedir says. “I was helping volunteers sign in most of the day. When I finally went downstairs in the chapel and saw all the items we had collected, it was an impactful moment for me.”

BLMatMac was able to expand the campus Open Pantry’s inventory, distribute customized packages for Mac students who are in the Twin Cities area this summer and in need, and send some of the donations to local organizations supporting communities of color. (They originally planned to stock the Little Free Pantry with donations, but various campus departments signed up to oversee that program through the summer.)

Kedir, a first-generation African immigrant who grew up in Minneapolis, views the donation drive as part of a bigger movement. As student government president this year, she’ll continue overseeing Open Pantry as part of her ongoing mission to fight food insecurity, among other disparities. “Racism and anti-Blackness existed before the tragic death of George Floyd and will exist after this trend decreases on social media,” Kedir says. “In the Macalester community, we care deeply about each other, and in order to create a true anti-racist society, we have to continue the conversation.”

And Krom, a white first-generation college student from the Netherlands, says the donation drive created an action step for the Mac community to work toward change together. “I don’t have the First Amendment right to go protest—I could be picked up at any second and deported—but this is also not a time for me to just sit down,” he says. “I think there are many students, including me, who should have done more earlier, but they’re standing up now and using their privilege to create change. This is not just a one-time donation drive. This is about broader change in our community that will last throughout the academic year and for future generations at Macalester.”

Follow @BLMatMac on Instagram

Photo by Kori Suzuki ’21

August 17 2020

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