Tunnel of Oppression has been created on UM’s campus every year with the goal of promoting awareness of and encouraging students to speak out against oppression. Each year, it features statistics designed to shock students.
However, I was shocked and saddened to see that the same oppression that Tunnel seeks to eradicate was perpetuated within its very walls.
Midway through the tunnel, in the room about racism, is where I found this oppression. It was on a single piece of paper hanging from a wall in the corner. There was a sentence about the Trayvon Martin killing. Like many media outlets, it told the story of the big and bad white man who killed the poor and innocent black boy. In a single sentence, this paper in the Tunnel vilified a man, presumed innocent until proven guilty.
More appalling than the sentence itself was its location, passively asserting that the killing was done as an act of racism. Though I certainly have no desire to defend George Zimmerman – killing is almost never justified and his lawyers will have a tough time in court trying to prove it so – but the amazing and saddening part was that the media, the general public, and now Tunnel, are all portraying this case as an issue of race.
There is little to no evidence of this killing being racially motivated. If there were evidence of it, prosecutors would have charged Zimmerman with a hate crime, not second-degree murder. Rather than wait to comment on this issue until after the trial, Tunnel and those in charge of the racism room made the ruling themselves.
Oppression will never end if we continue to paint ourselves as victims.
Jordan Balke is a senior majoring in biochemistry and biology.