This past Wednesday, a group of students organized a die-in in solidarity with the national movement against racist state violence. Around 100 students arrived in Ross dining hall at 10:30, lying down in every corner of the room, as students Rubby Paulino, Kizzy Joseph, and Elizabeth Dunn read a series of statements recounting recent police killings like Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and calling for the student body to join in solidarity. You can find some of the statements below, and Molly Stuart’s video footage of the event above. If you are interested in learning more about student activism around these issues, see here.
“I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting,” Michael Brown, age 18, August 9th 2014. “I can’t breathe,” Eric Garner, age 43, July 17th 2014. “What are you following me for?” Trayvon Martin, age 17, February 26th 2012. “I love you too,” Sean Bell, age 23, November 25th 2006. In addition to the last words of a few black men murdered in the U.S., we want to read the names of women and trans people of color who have also been subject to racist killing: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Duanna Johnson, Rekia Boyd, Kathryn Johnston and Yvette Smith. We are here today, together, to protest the continuous violence and discrimination against people of color. We also recognize that the same system of oppression exists at an international scale, and that we are joined in struggle from the Palestinians of Gaza to the students of Ayotzinapa. Tonight, we ask all of you to act in solidarity.
It is impossible to ignore the system of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism, all which commodify life itself. As stand-up comic Hari Kondabolu stated, “Telling me that I’m obsessed with racism in America is like telling me I’m obsessed with swimming when I’m drowning.” However, while we live in such a racially constructed society, we never really do talk about racism. With the devastating current events of today and the robbing of the lives of black and brown bodies, Middlebury cannot continue with business as usual. It is time for us to provide and encourage a space for discussion on racism and take a stand against the racist police state. The killing of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and so many others are reflective of the systems of oppression that our entire society is complicit in, including Middlebury students. As you return to your home communities, we encourage you to join with those protesting across the country, and across borders, for an end to racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist violence. It will take all of us.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Assata Shakur