Eugene Varnedoe, ’15
First of all, it needs to be said that as I’m white, I have no experience with the kind of systematic racism black people suffer on a daily basis in this country. I am trying my hardest to be as conscious as I can about this, but if I slip up let me know because that’s my bad completely. Second of all, it is worth mentioning that the community here at BHSEC has become a critical part of the student movement in the city. The ferocity that we showed when stood up again and again for this literally brought tears to my eyes. But it’s something that, when you sit down and think about it, makes a lot of sense, because fundamentally the solution to the problems which are rotting our society is education (or at least it is in my opinion). And BHSEC students don’t love anything more than education.
We need education to stop the police from using deadly force. We need education for the next generation so that they can be taught to respect people regardless of their skin color. We need education for the next generation so that they can create a system which is actually of the people, by the people and most importantly, for the people.
Some might say that the failure to indict the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner because of the color of their skin is a blatant miscarriage of justice. Others have exclaimed again and again how they couldn’t believe it (especially with regards to the Eric Garner case), or how much of a shock it was to them that these cops were let off the hook. And to them, to the people who were shocked, to the people who simply found the whole situation so surreal, where have you been your whole life?
While I agree that these cases represent failures on behalf of the government, they are not betrayals. As a fellow student of ours put it, our country’s justice structures were never intended to protect non-white lives. These murders aren’t glitches in the system; they are, in fact, features of the system. And that’s because America is a society which, like it or not, is founded on racism, and this is a fact that may make you uncomfortable if you’ve benefited from racial privilege. Sit in that discomfort, and ask how you can become a part of the solution. If you’re interested in being part of the solution consider joining Bard Student Activist network or getting in touch with any one of the many organizers here at BHSEC (myself included).