To my Kenyon Community,
The media is ablaze with controversy following the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin last month. His death (and the debate that has ensued) is one stark example amidst a series of incidents in the last week which have demonstrated the power and pervasiveness of racial, ethnic, gender, religious biases (etc.) in national discourse. Among these, I call to your attention the murder of Shamia Alawadi, an Iraqi-American mother of 5, who was found battered and unconscious in her kitchen floor, with a note reading: “go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist.” In pop culture, disgraceful internet uproar over the race of Hunger Games characters and a Shorty Award for new media being awarded to the Awkward Black Girl miniseries (who came to Kenyon this past February) has ensued. In a reprehensible moment that correlates hideously with Juan Williams’ admission that he feels “nervous” when he sees Muslims in the airport, Fox commentator Geraldo Rivera noted this week “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was…. What’s the instant identification [when you see someone wearing a hooded sweatshirt]?….People are gonna perceive you as a menace.” These incidents reflect the power of racial profiling to affect (and cut short) the lives of innocent persons in diverse communities. Further, they demonstrate the inability of many to disassociate damaging stereotypes and biases from the people they encounter, and recognize the value, beauty, or transcendence of someone’s narrative, fictional or not, is not dependent on their ethnic, racial or religious identity.
Kenyon College is better than that. I believe Kenyon to be a place that encourages the development of compassionate, humanistic global citizens.
Thus, I humbly ask you to join me in a national movement expressing solidarity with the families of Trayvon Martin and Shamia Alawadi, and all those who face discrimination by wearing a ‘hoodie’ TOMORROW, Friday March 30th. As a community, we can send the message that we reject racial, ethnic and religious profiling, and show our recognition that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Happy Social Justice Week.
Tess Waggoner ’13
Yalla Change Campaign- Ohio