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Editorial: From Atlanta to Brooklyn Center, the Work Is Not Done

by Madison Jarnot

Photo of a protestor approaching a line of Minnesota State Troopers outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department by Richard Tsong-Taatarii for the Star Tribune.

Recently, I saw someone I went to high school with, who is also a white person, post on Twitter that they were “getting out of politics.” They said Twitter “wasn’t fun anymore” and “politics are stressful.”

It reminded me that many people are starting to feel this way. Our political climate and the traumatic events that happen here every day are indeed exhausting and stressful, but we cannot simply tune out of current events because of it.

If you truly cared about the issues happening today, you wouldn’t be able to turn away from them. You would understand that people of color don’t have the luxury of tuning out politics. Their very existence is politicized by our government and our culture.

We have a duty as humans to help others, and part of this duty is to remain informed and involved. We cannot look away now. People of color are still being murdered.

The FBI said the Atlanta spa shootings that killed eight people—six of whom were Asian women—don’t constitute a hate crime, even though the shooter clearly targeted places where he knew there would be Asian women.

Hate crimes don’t need to be wholly motivated by prejudice. According to the FBI itself, even crimes that are only motivated “in part by an offender’s bias” are hate crimes.

If Robert Long wasn’t looking to murder Asian women, what was he trying to do? Ignoring the race of the victims is absolutely inconceivable to me. The racial bias couldn’t be clearer. Does the FBI think he had something against spas?

Just last week, Daunte Wright was murdered in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis that is only 10 miles away from the Hennepin County courtroom where Derek Chauvin is being tried for murder.

Daunte was 20 years old.

The cop who shot him, a white woman named Kim Potter, said she “accidentally” did it. She said she meant to tase him.

I don’t believe for a second that a trained police officer can mistake a plastic Taser that doesn’t even weigh half a pound with a metal gun that weighs at least about 1.4 pounds (without a magazine).

However, I don’t feel the need to debate the truthfulness of this excuse in the first place. The problem is much bigger than that. Even if she’s being honest, I don’t understand why she felt the need to tase a 20-year-old kid in the first place.

She was there with two other cops. They were mere feet away from him. Why did she immediately resort to violence? Why did she even reach for her Taser? Why did she feel so threatened?

The answer is so obvious that I shouldn’t have to say it, but to be clear: it was only because Daunte was a Black man. If he was white, she would’ve paused and diligently thought over it before she even placed her hand on her hip.

I think many people are hopeful that Chauvin will be convicted, and after hearing all of the grim news over the past year, they’re starting to look away. They’re starting to believe that this may fix something, or that things are getting better, and thus it’s okay to just ‘get out of’ politics for a while and take a break.

But what will Chauvin’s conviction fix?

Police are still murdering Black men in broad daylight. Even if Chauvin goes to jail, there will be cops all over the country who’ve murdered Black people walking free.

Clearly, even if Chauvin goes to jail, cops will continue to murder Black people at will. Sure, maybe they’ll get in trouble afterwards. But those Black people will still be dead.

Even if Chauvin goes to jail, there will still be white men like Robert Long murdering people of color out of “sexual frustration,” or ‘self-defense,’ or ‘anger.’ They will find any excuse to justify killing people of color. Then, they’ll turn around and pretend race had nothing to do with it.

This is why we cannot look away. There is still work to be done.

If you’re burnt out, take a break, take care of yourself, and reach out to your support system, but don’t give up. I know it’s stressful and horrifying to pay attention to the news every day, but you cannot help if you’re not informed.

The racists murdering innocent Black men and Asian women want nothing more than for you to look away, to stop caring. It gives them free reign to do what they want. This is why it’s so important to pay attention.

We have to show up for the people of color in our community. This might be in person, at protests or meetings, or virtually, spreading information and awareness online. This might be supporting the people of color in your life by offering them help cleaning or running some errands when they need to take a break. This might be having the hard, uncomfortable conversations with your white friends and family about these events, educating them and refusing to allow room for racism in your presence. This might be raising money for activists of color to help support their work or donating money to people of color who need it. This might be voting for legislators that are people of color or that are anti-racist and prioritize people of color in their politics.

Whatever you do, you have to do something. We have to do something, or nothing will change.

Other stories from vol. 14, issue 5:
Mainline Pharmacy Opens Vaccine Clinic in Chambers
SGA Distributes New Budgets, Club Leaders Express Frustrations
Pitt-Greensburg Celebrates First Lavender Graduation
Wrestlemania 37: WWE Welcomes Back Fans
Stream Your Heart Out: The Resurrection of Wrestlemania
Stream Your Heart Out: South Park’s “Vaccination Special”
Stream Your Heart Out: “Godzilla vs. Kong”

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