Editorial: In support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Content Warning: This editorial includes discussion of racially-motivated violence and police brutality. The same applies to many of the links.

In the past week, cities have erupted in protest in response to the murder of George Floyd. While his murder, and that of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, are the catalyst for this nationwide response, it is simultaneously fueled by years of police brutality against unarmed Black Americans. In light of these circumstances, we believe that The Whitman Wire, as a publication, has a powerful platform with which to speak against injustice. We are anti-racist and anti-fascist. We advocate for intersectional feminism. We support Black Lives Matter. These are our values. We aim to use our publication to condemn systemic racism and other forms of bigotry. We can no longer afford to take a neutral position during a time of crisis where protesters are labeled “thugs” and “domestic terrorists” when advocating for the reform, or defunding of, a law enforcement system that has targeted and murdered Black Americans. 

The Wire strives to hold members of the Whitman community accountable for racist action and speech, provide a platform for informed discussions of police brutality, institutional racism, white privilege, advocacy, and other topics relating to systemic racism, and further inform our community through our coverage of both local and national events. The Wire calls upon the administration of Whitman College to further expand mandatory race education on campus. The college’s Power & Privilege Symposium heavily relies on marginalized voices to do the unpaid labor of educating their peers. This institution has the obligation to educate all students on race and to understand the ways in which it actively perpetuates systems of power. Below, we have provided information that may foster a better understanding of the systems and events that preceded these protests, as well as tips on safety when attending protests and resources for further education.  


Alasdair Padman, Emma Fletcher-Frazer, and Ella Meyers

Editor-in-Chief, News Editor, and Publisher


Why are the protests happening?

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white Minneapolis Police Officer. Officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao were also present and complicit in Floyd’s murder. On May 29, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder. His arrest followed several nights of protest in Minneapolis. As of June 1, The other officers have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department but have yet to be arrested. More information on Floyd’s murder can be found here.

While Floyd’s death was the catalyst for a now-global movement, his name has been joined by Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. On February 23, Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was murdered by Gregory and Travis McMichael in Brunswick, Georgia. The McMichaels were arrested on May 12 and charged with murder and aggravated assault. William Bryan, the man who filmed Arbery’s murder, was arrested on May 22 on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Further information on this case can be found here.   

On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police officers. They were carrying out a narcotics raid on a “no-knock” warrant. The official account of the murder has been hotly contested and the FBI is now investigating the case. As of June 1, the officers have not been charged. A more comprehensive breakdown can be found here

 These deaths have acted as a catalyst for protests across the nation and the world. From Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Berlin, Germany, people have taken to the streets to express their anger, pain, sadness, and disillusionment with the political, economic, and social structures that perpetrate, or are complicit, in these targeted acts of violence against Black people. Protesters are demanding reparations and reform for centuries of trauma, violence, and inequality. In many places, peaceful protesters have met fierce resistance from police departments and, in certain states, governors have mobilized the National Guard. These acts of state-instigated violence have been caught on camera by protesters and media alike. In one of many examples recorded and uploaded in the last week, an NYPD SUV is shown driving into a crowd of protesters. The video can be found here

On June 1, President Trump threatened to use military force if states were unable to control the protests. He labeled violent protests as “domestic acts of terror.” This was preceded by an MSNBC and CNN-documented attack on protesters and journalists outside the White House so that Trump could stage a photo op outside of a church. Further information on the President’s address to the American people can be found here.

These racially motivated murders, the protests that followed, and the federal and state responses are only the latest cases and events. The history of the U.S. is a story of white,  government-perpetrated and sponsored violence against Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color. 


What precautions can you take if you are protesting? 

  • If you are planning on protesting, make sure you have a plan. Know how to contact friends if you are separated. Know how to get assistance if needed.
  • Document police actions, brutality, and injuries.
  • If you are white, and are in a group which may be arrested, consider putting your body in front. An arrest for a person of color may have very different consequences than for those that are white.
  • Bring emergency contacts and identification information.
  • Don’t wear contacts. If you are pepper-sprayed, the irritating chemicals can be trapped underneath. Further information about protecting yourself against tear gas can be found here.
  • Remember to eat food and drink water.
  • Make sure to wear a mask, and try to social distance in a crowd if possible.
  • Go with at least one friend, and keep in contact with them. Have a meeting place chosen in the event you are separated.
  • If you have a medical condition, make sure you carry your medical alert identification and medications with you.
  • Carry water and hand sanitizer with you.
  • If you are sick, stay at home.
  • Quarantine for 14 days after attending a protest and consider getting tested for COVID-19.

Find more information here and here.


Resources for further education: 

  • How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
  • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa
  • ain’t i a woman: black women and feminism by bell hooks
  • The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamaha Taylor
  • The 1619 Project (initiative by The New York Times Magazine)
  • 13TH by Ava DuVernay (Netflix Documentary) 
  • Selma by Ava DuVernay (Historical Drama)
  • Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee (Drama)
  • Malcolm X by Spike Lee (Historical Drama)
  • Get Out by Jordan Peele (Horror/Thriller)
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution by Stanley Nelson Jr. (Documentary)
  • TED Talks on racism in America can be found here.