The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 7th

Column: Property valued over Black life


Columnist Jalynn Harris

As the body count of state-sanctioned Black genocide increases, white America continues to react not with outrage or even simple acknowledgement, but instead with an obsessive regard for property.

On July 10, Sandra Bland, a Black woman, was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Three days later, after being taken into custody for allegedly assaulting a police officer, her body was found hanging in a Texas jail cell.

The events surrounding her mysterious death, ruled as a suicide, have been heavily contested. But whether her death was self-inflicted or not, the state played an instrumental role in it.

During the first week of classes the infamous Silent Sam monument was spray-painted in black reading, “Who is Sandra Bland?” UNC responded by scrubbing the statue clean almost immediately.

The University chose to silence activism and preserve the buff of their property.

By erasing the paint, the University refused to acknowledge its own racism, justifying it under the pretense that the act was criminal.

We need to reevaluate what we regard as criminal. State-sanctioned massacre of Black lives is criminal.

Property is replaceable; Black lives — though historically and presently treated as property — are not.

At the University of Cape Town, where I am currently studying, students, too, are curating landmarks to speak against institutional racism.

On August 16, 2012, 34 employees of Lonmin Platinum Mining Company were massacred by police after striking against low wages, according to the Mail & Guardian.

Three years later, commemorating the tragedy of Marikana, UCT students spray-painted university property with phrases such as “UCT profits from blood money” and “Max Price 4 Black Lives?” indicting the vice chancellor of the university and his culpability in Black genocide.

Their message was up for a week and still not all of the paint has been scrubbed clean.

Twenty-one years after the legislative end of apartheid, South African communities have a consciousness that racial violence is still a defining feature of their sociopolitical landscape.

Amerikkka has no conscience. In fact, it’s converted centuries of racial terror into ahistorical flags that are proudly waved as heritage.

Spray-painting Silent Sam, which was erected during a time of white terrorism, connects the narrative of Confederate white terrorism and the genocide that is taking place on Black bodies today. It calls out the University as nothing more than a microcosm of a broader system — a system that condones and inflicts racial terror.

Quickly erasing that is to give preference to white life, white comfort. This is the definition of white supremacy.

If you are more concerned with material things and the supposed criminality of scuffing repairable objects than responding to Black genocide, then you need to rethink your priorities.


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