Letter to the Editor: A defense of the dead-in

Photo by Natalie Martinez

By Hezekiah McCaskill and Keyra Stephens

“Damn. Another one?”

Only two years after Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, less than a month after Eric Garner, that’s what black people all over America were saying.

On Aug. 9, a college-bound teenager was fatally shot six times by a police officer. At approximately 12:02 p.m., Michael Brown, Jr. would lie dead in the streets of Canfield Green Apartments for over four hours.

America has an epidemic. We have a problem.

In a country where white mass shooters get more sympathy for non-extraneous circumstances that “led” them to callously and calculatingly plan how they were going to take lives, black men risk criminalization when they are killed, just so their deaths can be validated.

It is deeply disturbing to us that the media constantly criminalizes black victims, yet victimizes white criminals. A black victim should not have to go on trial just to prove they deserved their death.

It is deeply disturbing to us that, in 2011, the Center for Disease Control counted 460 people who died by “legal intervention” involving a firearm discharge.

It is deeply disturbing to us that, between 1968 and 2011, the Center for Disease Control’s National Violent Death Report shows that, on average, black people are 4.2 times more likely to get shot and killed by a cop than a white person.

But most people don’t know this because they are worrying about the wrong things. They’re getting mad about the U.S. flag burning, or the protests making things inconvenient or uncomfortable for them.

When they get the opportunity, they pick and choose what to care about and what to ignore. People are choosing to get angry over small things, but refuse to acknowledge any of the motivations behind them so they can ignore and minimize the issue. Because they don’t want to face reality.

At 12:02 p.m. on Oct. 27, a number of Webster students participated in a “Dead-In” demonstration. What this demonstration entailed was a call and response of, “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” followed by students dropping to the floor as if they had been killed.

We agree that a protest’s purpose is to educate and affect change. When we read off names of a select few killed due to police violence (a list that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface), did we not educate?

Did we not affect change on those in attendance by spreading awareness on an issue that is plaguing the black community?

The dead-in was an education aspect of sorts to remind people this issue is still an issue. Sure, people “know about Mike Brown.” However, that can mean a variety of things — and the more people don’t care about something or ignore the problem, the more it’s going to continue.

As college students, we get the benefit of enlightening our minds about our values and the reality of the world around us, but college can also be a bubble. As liberal as Webster is, this campus is no exception.

We shouldn’t feel the need to remind people that these issues are still going on. Yes, even now in the so-called “post-racial” period, just because Obama is president. While that is an amazing and historical feat, America has still only come so far racially.

Think about it. If this was truly a post-racial society, why do we still have to explain why these issues matter? We shouldn’t, but if you need to know, this is why: because all lives matter.

We all bleed the same. We all die the same. That’s what this is about.

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