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In the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, students say more race education is needed and people should vote

Watkins smiles next to Blake with a TV in the background.
Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake.

Fifty-seven years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on Aug. 28, 1963, a fresh wave of protests has swept the nation in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake. BYU–Hawaii students said educating people and voting are key to fighting against racial injustices.

According to the BBC, and as seen in a now-viral video, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot in the back seven times by Officer Rusten Sheskey. The video shows Blake was shot as he walked away from Officer Sheskey and attempted to enter his own car.  

Trinity Carlisle, a junior from Illinois majoring in communications, said, "As a Black-Samoan woman, I fear for my future sons and daughters." 

Carlisle said she was shocked when she saw the video of Blake's shooting. "Seeing things like this, it just made me want to cry." 

Ashley Willis, a sophomore from the United Kingdom majoring in social work, described what she felt after seeing the video as "rage and fury." She said, "I can't imagine the very real pain and fear watching the video from a Black perspective." 

Blake's shooting is different from the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor because Blake was a potential threat to the officers, Willis said. According to the BBC, Blake told investigators he did have a knife in his car. 

"While the situation was different, that in no way excuses the fact that Officer Rusten Sheskey shot into Blake's back seven times," said Willis.

Although the situations differ, Willis said the evidence of systemic racism in police brutality has remained constant through all three cases.

Carlisle said there is a lot of attention on Blake's shooting because "there is absolutely no [reason to shoot] someone when their back is turned to you while they are unarmed."

According to the BBC, "The shooting has sparked a wave of protests in recent days, some of which have turned violent." 

Carlisle said as long as the protests are non-violent and safe, she wants to "let people protest in their own way." This could be by marching in the streets or by signing petitions.

"Go sign petitions. You don't have to leave your house. [You can] sit in the place where you have a roof on your head."

Peaceful protests are a necessary tool in bringing about justice, said Willis. "Peaceful protests are one of the ways the civil rights movement came to end segregation, how white women were given the first right to vote, how gay rights laws were passed, etc."

Willis added, protesting is one of the "many ways social justice can be translated from an ideology to reality."

Alex Tumalip, a sophomore from Honolulu majoring in communications, said, "This is about human rights. We are asking for justice for our Black brothers and sisters, and no one is listening. We need real change in this country."

We are asking for justice for our Black brothers and sisters, and no one is listening.
Alex Tumalip

Fighting against racial injustice

Voting is the easiest way for people to get involved in the fight against racial injustice, said Tumalip. "I believe we have a clear choice here," he said. 

Tumalip went on to say people should take part in the 2020 Census. "[The census] is how the government will know how to disperse important funds. … It does not matter if you are a Republican or Democrat. You have a civic duty to be involved as a concerned citizen."

Willis said she believes people need to shift their focus from "'racist' vs. 'non-racist' to 'learning' vs. 'not learning.'" She said it is too dangerous to be complacent in the personal narrative of "I'm not a racist," and said people should picture themselves on a spectrum, "always learning and growing to become anti-racist."

Both Willis and Carlisle said social media is a valuable tool in educating others and bringing awareness to social issues.

Carlisle said she shares stories on social media to help spread information. She said she does this "so people can read up on the things going on in our country."

Educating people on racism and anti-racism is what Carlisle said she believes is an important step in fighting racial injustice. She added, "Call out injustices when you see them in life and with other people. I believe speaking up and trying to do your part will go a very long way."