“Dear Harvard College students,” writes Dean Rakesh Khurana on December 8,
I know that my words cannot begin to express the emotions or claim the lived experiences that so many of us are feeling in the wake of the events in Ferguson and Staten Island. But there are moments when we cannot stay silent. So with great humility, I share these few thoughts.
Our nation is struggling with very serious issues around racial equality, violence, public safety, and our justice system. I was profoundly affected by the words of Professor Walton, who described the consequences of America’s criminal justice system on our most vulnerable fellow citizens in his powerful sermon on Sunday. And I have watched and listened in awe of our students, faculty, and staff who have come together to declare with passion, grace, and growing resolve that “Black Lives Matter” and to call for justice, for ally-ship, and for hope.
I can appreciate the dean’s anguish, because the battle to convince us that “black lives matter” is a monumental task, as anyone who reads the newspaper knows or listens to the news knows. Black lives really don’t matter. No one knows this better than the surviving family members of African Americans who were killed for a jacket, a pair of shoes, or no reason at all. Except maybe the blacks who kill for jackets and shoes. Or for no reason.
It used to be that when Demacio Bailey woke up in the morning, he didn’t need to look in the mirror to see what he looked like–he could simply look at his brother Demario, whose good looks were identical to his. These teenage twins had a lot of things going for them beyond their handsome appearance: good grades at school, a family that watched over them, an older brother in college to serve as a role model. This morning, though, and every morning henceforth, when Demacio arises he’ll need that mirror, for Demario no longer exists. He was murdered walking to basketball practice with his twin.
Because black lives don’t matter. At least, they don’t matter as much as a winter coat, which is what the four young black men who allegedly killed Demario were after when they allegedly shot him in the chest as he tried to defend his brother.
Last February Kahron Lee, a sophomore at Virginia Union University, also learned his life mattered less than his sneakers, when a black teenager shot and killed him for his Nike Air Jordans. Black lives don’t matter.
Cheerleading Coach Amy Earl had this to say about Terial’le Rawls, “She was just a ball of fire. She always had great energy, she brought the best out of everyone, and she was always willing to work hard.” Seventeen-year-old Miss Rawls’ fire was permanently extinguished when she was shot and killed this summer at an altercation in a Florida movie theater parking lot. Miss Rawls may or may not have been involved in the fracas. Police have arrested two black male teenagers as suspects in her murder. Black lives don’t matter.