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Campus News

Students Organize Events Surrounding Trayvon Martin Incident

by Micah Wilkins, web editor

Students will host events throughout the week surrounding issues of racism and racial violence, in response to the death of Trayvon Martin.

Several students on campus have been collaborating and organizing events surrounding the Trayvon Martin incident. Such events include a poetry flash mob during lunch on Monday, April 2, a Hoodie Day all day Thursday, and an open mic Thursday at 7 p.m. in the pavilion.

Martin was a 17-year old black male who was walking back to his father’s home in Sanford, Fla. Feb. 26 when he was accosted and shot dead by a local neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Claiming that he shot Martin in self-defense, the police took Zimmerman at his word, and do not arrest him. More than a month after Martin’s homicide, Zimmerman is still free.

“It touches home with so many people,” said sophomore DeAndrea Lottier, who has been collaborating with others on campus to organize these events. “Racism is still living and breathing. It is a problem everywhere and it needs to be addressed.”

According to senior Freesia McKee, current events are not as visible on the Warren Wilson campus, and our campus does not pay enough attention to cases of racism in particular.

According to Lottier, who is writing a term paper on racial violence, in the last 20 years, there have been 6,000 cases of racial violence and police brutality against people of color. But these of course are underreported, Lottier said.

Both McKee and Lottier had similar reactions when they first heard of the Trayvon Martin incident. ‘Again?’ they both asked themselves as they read the story for the first time.

“I feel like throughout my time at Warren Wilson I keep hearing about stories of this nature,” McKee said. “Another person of color dead because of questionable circumstances. And I question why there’s so little attention on our campus to these types of things that affect all our communities and affect all members of our community directly and indirectly.”

McKee, Lottier and others decided to take action concerning the Martin case, both to support the Martin family, showing solidarity with Trayvon, but also to expose the questionable procedures of the Sanford police department, and raise consciousness surrounding the issue of racism, in the world, and within our own community.

“By not talking about racism, our campus is perpetuating racism and allowing these incidents to continue to happen,” McKee said.

McKee and several others who are helping organize the week’s series of events attended a conference at James Madison University March 22-24 at the Furious Flower Poetry Center, where they learned about how poetry can be used as “a vehicle for social action” according to McKee. A hot topic at the conference, in particular among the students from historically black colleges and universities, was the Trayvon Martin incident.

“Students were talking about ways of using what we have to stop this pattern from continuing to happen,” McKee said. “Being at this conference and seeing what other students at HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] were doing around issues of racism, [we saw that] there was so much we could be doing that we were doing very little of. Some of us got back and were energized.”

McKee, Lottier and the other organizers felt that student involvement and expression through poetry and other creative means would provide a way for students to express their feelings about this incident and about racism in general.

“As tight and as condensed as we are, it’s hard not to acknowledge the pain,” Lottier said. “We should all have an emotional response. It’s our duty as people, as humans to respond to things that are done that are wrong.”

Walking While Black Event Series 

Tuesday, April 3

Caucus, Canon Lounge, 6:15pm

Discussion on strategies for continued action for Trayvon & against racism & racialized violence.

Thursday, April 5

Campus-Wide Hoodie Day, ALL DAY

Wear your hoodies all day in memory and solidarity. While following Martin, Zimmerman told police that the boy looked suspicious because he was hearing a hoodie. The Martin family has stated that their son was a victim of racial profiling.

Open Mic, Pavilion, 7 p.m.

Come share original pieces or works by others in response to Trayvon’s death and related acts of racism and racist violence.

Friday, April 6

The Peal’s Microbeat, Sage Café, 9 p.m.

A performance prose competition with the theme “Walking Alone.”

Throughout the week, students will be tabling during lunch, passing out packages of skittles to send to the police department in Sanford, Fla., as Martin was not armed when he was killed, and had only a bag of skittles and an iced tea with him when assaulted by Zimmerman.

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