Latin’s Black Students & Alums Speak Out Against Police Brutality


Robert Igbokwe, Editor-in-Chief

To create this piece, I asked 17 black students and alums, “How do you feel?” Only after recording their responses did I realize how impossible my question was. How do you feel? How are we supposed to feel? How should one feel when they hear that yet another black person has died at the hands of those who swore to protect them? How should one feel as they watch their city crumble at the hands of people who have been peaceful for too long? How should one feel when they realize that the Land of the Free has every intention of keeping them in chains? Chains of fear, hopelessness, and servitude that were never truly broken by the 13th Amendment. 

The purpose of this piece isn’t for non-black readers to understand how we feel. It’s impossible to understand exactly what these past few weeks have felt like. But hopefully, our thoughts and experiences can offer insight into the gravity of this situation and our hopes for the future.

“I was angry when I heard about George Floyd. What the cop did was not right, no matter what angle you look at it from. I did not expect this response from black people, let alone non-black people because I know things like this happen so often. I find it interesting how we always end up rallying for one person’s death. It is like that idiom “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” There are black bodies always dying from police brutality all the time, and so those are the straws. But in this case, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the death of George Floyd. That made people snap and realize that they have to take action. I am proud of the non-black people I see on the street protesting and the influencers using their platforms to be outspoken about their allyship. I am not one to condone violence, but in regards to violent protests, I do understand. People have been trying peaceful protests and those have not been getting us heard so I do understand why some might think it’s okay to turn to violence to get heard.”

– Liza Ampong ‘21

“I’m extremely sad that not only are there so many cases of police brutality against black people that result in death, but that it has gotten to the point where only the recorded deaths make headlines and not the many other acts of police brutality that result in injury that can scar a black persons self for a lifetime. I wish this would end soon. So many of these movements have happened without ending these atrocities. This time, I hope we are heard and there will be a new system that will reduce these numbers to none.”

–  David Watts ’22

“I feel numb. I’ve become so desensitized to seeing innocent Black people die that it doesn’t even phase me anymore, and that’s terrifying. I’m not sad anymore; I’m angry. I’m tired of waking up every day and seeing another hashtag about a person whose live was taken from them. It’s exhausting, and it can make you feel incredibly disillusioned about the state of our country. History keeps repeating itself, but at the end of the day, nothing has changed, and sometimes I don’t think it ever will. I wish non-Black people were more empathetic to the plight of Black Americans. I wish they didn’t just post a black square with a hashtag and call it allyship. Allyship cannot be self-defined. It’s not a single event; it’s lifelong relationship. Right now, I feel like a lot of people, especially from Latin, are doing performative activism. They’re posting pastel portraits of Floyd and Breonna and Ahmaud, but that’s where it ends. Where were they for smaller issues? Why didn’t they show up for SDEC workshops? Why didn’t they support BSU? Why do they still say the N-word while singing rap songs? People are jumping on the “Black Lives Matter” bandwagon because it seems trendy, but innocent people dying is not a trend. I hope after a few weeks that, when the media attention has died down, all of these people continue to show up for Black people. I don’t think people, especially non-Black people, have a right to tell someone how they can protest police brutality. If you’re posting more about the riots than WHY the riots are happening, then you are a part of the problem. If you care more about Target or Gucci than George or Breonna or Ahmaud, then you are a part of the problem. If you’re quoting MLK and saying “he wouldn’t want this,” but you don’t actually stand for what MLK stood for, then you are a part of the problem. I can understand being upset about small black-owned businesses being destroyed. But did you support those businesses before now? Did you buy their products? Or are you just talking about them now to try and undermine the BLM movement? I’m not here for the “phony” concern. People had issues when Kapernick kneeled peacefully, and they have issues now.”

– Briannah Cook ‘20

“In general, I feel very sad and confused. In pictures of protests that I’ve seen online, there have been people going to these protests to basically do an anti-protest. This makes be especially confused.  I expected others, non-black people specifically, to react with respect. All that we want is respect and if we can’t get that basic right, then there is no room for change. I think that there are a lot of people that are practicing performative activism and making these protests into an aesthetic when that is the opposite of what they were meant to do. I don’t think real change has happened in this country without the use of riots or violent protests. I do not think that the looting is okay but when there are people protesting peacefully the cops are the ones that make it violent and provoke them.”

– Elise Maajid ‘22


“Hearing about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and police brutality these past couple of weeks has left me heartbroken and angry. The people who I grew up believing were supposed to protect me are killing people who look like me. Having the talk with your parents about the police and justice system at a young age can completely change your viewpoint on the world. Being told to be home by a certain time, not being able to go out in certain clothing at certain times, and being educated on what to do when I’m pulled over completely changed my view on my life and how I can live it. Police brutality is real and no matter how successful you are, to them you’re just a black person. Racial prejudice is prevalent in our society and some don’t see it, but it’s still affecting people and it’s imperative that all people do research and try to educate themselves on who is being affected and how. The rioting is happening because all other forms of protest have been silence. Peaceful protests end with police force. Kaepernick was told to go to another country and fired for kneeling during protests. Now the people are angry and they want immediate change in a way that will claim national attention. Hopefully this calls for change in the police system.”

– Randy Pierre ‘21



“If you can stand by as black people die at the hands of the police, there is nothing humane about you. If you claim that you don’t have the energy or time to try to make a difference, you are part of the problem. You aren’t any better than the police killing them. I absolutely hate the fact that justice has to come this way, but like many others have said, peace hasn’t been getting anyone’s attention and the riots sure as hell are getting attention which is the goal. The point of the riots is to show that people have power in numbers. Stop saying that looting is a crime because murder is too but nothing has been done about that. We are trying to hold the police force and any other policing accountable for their abuse towards black people. Your silence and backlash will be remembered so SAY THEIR NAMES.”

– Zemzem Mohammed ‘21

“Overall I’m upset because as a black person our race is downgraded and will never be equal in America. I keep hearing that history is repeating itself, but it’s not because history never changed it’s just being recorded and recognized more. I feel that non-black people have showed their true emotions and colors during times like these. There’s two options for non black people. Either stay silent during this and show that they don’t care or speak up and reach out to their black friends. Yes rioting can get out of hand but I feel in America they don’t truly hear you until you’re loud and violent. When we peacefully do something they start the fight. We  as black people learned violent from white people.”

– Saniyah Davis ‘23


“I, generally, am not against people looting and taking down big chains because that’s where it hits the most. America loves its economy and if we tear that down, what else is white America going to do. If we hit them where it hurts, maybe they’ll realize that we aren’t taking their suppression anymore. We never have.”

– Keiara Stallworth ‘20


“I think it’s important to remember that there are no absolutes. I follow 1312, and I have a jacket that says that. But I’m always questioning what I believe. I see cops that are abusing their power, but I also see some that are taking a kneel along with the protesters and giving their own positive speeches. There are still some allies. The system is worse than the people.”

– Blair Pratt ‘22

“People are rioting and sometimes it’s for personal gain, but the ultimate goal is interrupt the economy that white supremacists love so much. We have tried everything—these peaceful protests, sit-ins, but we still go unheard. Everything that’s happening, to me, is justified. This city will do what it needs to do to rebuild the community so it can continue attracting tourists and keeping white spaces clean and comfortable. I’m only worried about the predominantly black neighborhoods that no one cares about that are being destroyed right now. This is just all so frustrating. I understand being upset at the world and not wanting to answer people’s questions on social media—this time is for us. Non-black people have to take an effort to do some research on their own.”

– Anwar Mohammed ‘19

“A lawyer who is supposed to practice the law—not even enforce it just practice it—has to study and train for 7 years. Someone responsible for enforcing the law, has a gun on their hips, can throw someone in jail, tuin lives, take their items, take their lives, only has to do 5 months of training. That’s ridiculous to me and shows just how deeply flawed the criminal justice system is. We need to change the way people learn to be cops.”

– Zavella Sanders ‘19

“Never in my life have I ever felt more helpless. I watch everything that is going on and I often ask myself if I’m doing enough. Even though I’ve been posting on social media, signing petitions and emailing people, I feel that I should be out there protesting with everyone else. As I try to process everything that is going on, I believe that breakdowns are becoming a new normal that is relatable to many. Whenever I closed my eyes to escape this reality, images of all of this chaos still managed to haunt me. I appreciate the efforts made by some members of our community, however, I believe that more can be done. I do not agree with the actions that occurred over the weekend, but I am heavily disappointed that this is what we feel we must resort to in order for our voices to heard and acknowledged. During these times, I hope that everyone truly reflects on the current events and use their privilege and platform to continue to spread awareness.”

– Delilah Queen ‘22


“I’m just disappointed and disgusted, but not surprised. The whole situation is just very saddening because another innocent black life was taken. How many more black people have to die before change happens? I have been having engaging and thoughtful conversations with peers from all races. Most have been good and very open ended discussions. On the other hand, I have talked to others who disagree with the movement or won’t speak out because of people around them. I don’t encourage the lootings and the violent protest but it’s very very very clear to see where all this pain is coming from. Years and years and years of not being heard brings out the pain of unheard voices and that’s just the reality of it.”

– Charles Mitchell ‘21

“For me, the most important thing to stay sane and healthy throughout all of this is being with people like me and having conversations with fellow black people. I have been very frustrated and sad, and it’s because this pandemic and these protest are revealing so much of the inequality that’s always been there. Seeing how slow the response has been to this pandemic, a global pandemic, and then to compare that to how within a few days of the protests, the government put up curfews and all kinds of measures—why wasn’t this done earlier to promote social distancing. No one sees these things when they aren’t affecting you, but what this shows me is that people are more afraid of black people than they are of a deadly virus.” 

– Ysrael Hernandez


“I am feeling hopeful because people are starting to discuss and have an honest dialogue about what is happening in the African-American community. I see a lot of diversity in those who are protesting and supporting this movement. I think that it’s encouraging that other groups, not only in the U.S. but across the world have come together to support the protest through marching and social media. This diversity is encouraging, and the time to re-imagine our elected future is now and to move forward together. A lot of people may claim that these angry protests and riots are a terrible response. In addition, many people may be afraid and uncomfortable, but maybe people should uncomfortable, as Dr.Martin Lurther King said “A riot is the voice of the unheard.” The truth of the matter is real systematic change has not come through peaceful protest alone. I am not condoning violence, but I don’t think we can say that peaceful protest is the only answer. If peaceful protests were the answer we would’ve had change long ago. People see the property damage, destruction, and looting people need to realize that there is pain behind the anger and destruction. What we are seeing is the destructive power of despair and hopelessness. Black people want to be heard. The tragic, senseless death of George Floyd is only the latest in the long line of events that share the same root cause, institutionalized systemic racism in our country. These protests are the same as the American story for independence, both were born out of economic, social, and political oppression and discrimination.”

– McKenna McMurray ‘22

“I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed and exhausted, and I know I’m not alone. I think it was important for me to take breaks and step back to kind of protect my inner peace and energy. But I’ve also been feeling kind of relieved in a way because I’ve been able to cut a lot of people out of my life who are not willing to move forward and speak up publicly and loudly to dismantle the system that is keeping us in place. Friends who’ve reached out personally—I’m grateful to them. But if you are not publicly talking to the people who are actively perpetuating racism, sexism, all -isms, if you’re not writing to your alderman, writing to your leaders, donating if you can, then that private conversation we had means nothing to me.”

– Roodmerlynn Pierre ‘14

“I’m feeling hopeful. In terms of people within the Latin community, the majority of them have acted as I predicted, just enough so that they aren’t called out for their silence. I don’t want to seem like I’m talking down to others because I know that I could be doing more, so I’m encouraging the Latin Community, including myself, to take more action. Whether that’s research about the history of institutional racism and police, which started as slave catchers or voting for candidates throughout all government levels, that will enact change to everything else in between. I am happy with those who have shown genuine interest and support, from just sharing helpful information on social media to participating in marches and protests. On the topic of social media, those who have shared a black screen on Instagram with the hashtags #BLM, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackOutTuesday, etc. I would kindly ask that they take down the post because it has oversaturated these hashtags making it nearly impossible to find the helpful information shared using these hashtags. I recommend that they replace it with the information that has been shared using these hashtags. Even if you feel it’s been shared already, there is always someone who hasn’t seen it. I believe that peaceful protests have their place and effectiveness, for example, the Montgomery Bus boycotts, where African-American men, women, and children chose not to ride the bus for over a year. This caused the bus system to lose about 3,000 to 4,000 dollars per day. In total, the bus company lost 1.1 – 1.5 million dollars, which is the equivalent of 10.3 – 14.1 million dollars in today’s money. This led to the integration of the bus system. Although this peaceful approach was very successful, this approach does not work for every issue. It took the most gruesome and fatal war in US history, the Civil War, causing over 600,000 American casualties, to abolish slavery casualties. 360,000 American men lost their lives fighting for the abolition of slavery. I am not saying violence is good, but I also recognize that no significant change in this country has ever come about without some form of violence. Therefore if a system is designed to continually diminish, destroy, and attack a community that is already impoverished, that community will eventually have no choice but to respond with violence.  People are tired of their current living situation, and nothing has worked thus far, we’ve seen a peaceful march after a peaceful demonstration, but there has been no change. Subsequently, they are resorting to violence, which is what we see with these riots. 

I am in no way condoning the actions of those who have taken advantage of the chaos for their financial gain, but in a capitalistic society, the only way to ensure change happens is to affect the flow of money. I am hoping that this chaos will make a significant enough dent in the American economy, and legislatures will be forced to enact change on a fundamental level similar to the way our home town, Chicago, emerged more robust and more resilient after the Chicago Fire. 

We as a community and as the people need to do our part to change our nation, and make sure everyone is treated as equals, regardless of our intersectionality.”

– Lamar King ‘21


“With everything going on, you wonder what’s going to happen after the noise dies down, after the protest stop, and after #BLACKLIVESMATTER isn’t trending anymore. Is it going to go right back to where we were before with people not being aware or not caring? I hope we start to change and these protests have an impact on people, but I’m not confident. With past movements, people were protesting very specific things like the right to vote and desegregation, and change could start with one law. But with this, there’s no law that says killing an unarmed black person is legal. Where does change even start?”

– Kelsey Watkins ‘19

Now more than ever, we need to listen to black voices. That’s why this piece will be updated constantly to reflect the diversity of opinions and experiences in our communityIf you are a member of Latin’s community (faculty, staff, administration, and parents included) and identify as a black or African-American person, please email us at [email protected] with your thoughts and an optional accompanying image.