ITHACA, N.Y. — When unarmed black man Terence Crutcher was shot by a police officer in Tulsa, Cornell student Delmar Fears felt almost desensitized to the shooting.
Crutcher’s death, along with the death of North Carolina man Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a police officer, didn’t spark the Black Student Union’s march through campus Friday afternoon, though.
The march had been planned since the summer as a reminder that Black Lives still matter, organizers said, and at least 100 people turned out for it.
“Black lives are still being taken every day,” Fears said. ” You don’t know who it’s going to be. You don’t know who’s going to become a hashtag.”
She said her grandfather was a police officer who was killed on the job by a robber and her family knows a lot of police officers. But despite that, she said she still has to live with being a black woman every day.
When she got her driver’s licence, for instance, she was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction.
“I was just, like, so terrified. I was crying. I called my dad on the phone…,” she said.
She said that she and other black people live with knowing that for a trivial reason, they could be killed by a police officer.
But massive reforms in law enforcement aren’t the only problem for the black community and their struggle with institutionalized racism. The prison system, the census, local and national law makers, voter suppression movements — they’re all contributing factors to the unique struggle black people face.
“Racism has just re-imagined itself throughout history,” Fears said.
Another organizer, Jaylexia Clark,19, said she doesn’t quite know how police shootings of black men make her feel.
After Crutcher was shot, she got a text message from her dad asking if she was okay.
“He literally just texted to ask me about how I feel seeing Terence Crutcher,” she said. So she called him right away, they talked and he told her he was worried after seeing news reports of an SUV being maliciously driven into a crowd of protesters at Michigan University.
She saw how the injustice felt from Crutcher’s death impacted her, her family and moved on to every black person she knows.
“That was an overwhelming feeling,” she said.
She said it’s important to raise awareness about the injustices still faced by the black community because after she and her other black friends leave Cornell, they’ll be leaving the bubble of protection they sometimes feel being Ivy League students.
She said, “What world are we going to be re-entering to? A word where we’re just black people.”