Act up, act now
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Shortly after noon on Tuesday, I joined a group of students and faculty in a peaceful protest on the sidewalk between O’Shaughnessy Hall and DeBartolo Hall. We laid on the ground for 11 minutes in reference to the 11 times Eric Garner stated that he could not breathe as a New York City police officer used a chokehold that ultimately ended his life. After the allotted time had passed, we stood up and chanted as we dispersed to class.
I have never felt more proud to be a part of the Notre Dame community. But we are not done.
The epidemic of police brutality is one that can not be ignored. The senseless deaths of Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and countless others, combined with the utter lack of culpability for their killers, makes me ashamed as an American and as a human being.
I am lucky that my reaction is one of shame, frustration and anger as opposed to complete fear for my life. This is a black issue, and I can not imagine how black people across the country must feel as these killings keep happening with no repercussions, the American justice system communicating loudly and clearly that their lives are not even worth a trial.
Here at Notre Dame, a campus dominated by white people, it can be easy to brush all this off. I myself have never been uncomfortable around the police, have never worried that an innocent gesture could be interpreted as a threat and have never feared that I would be gunned down in the street. White people can not let their privilege block out what is happening to black people. All lives matter, yes, but black lives are repeatedly treated as disposable.
This has to change. If you’d like to help, come to the discussion at Legends at 7:30 Wednesday night. Help put up markers for the deceased on South Quad on Thursday morning.
At the very least, have a conversation. Talk to your friends, talk to your professors, talk to your family. This movement is not against any institution or group of people. It is about securing equal protection under law for all, regardless of race.
In the face of such tragedies, it is tempting to lose faith, to succumb to cynicism. Don’t. Change is possible with hope, with solidarity and with action. I would like to close with the advice we chanted on Tuesday as we concluded the protest, “Act up. Act now. Act up. Act now.”
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.