Three white, University of Michigan students who co-organized a “die-in” protest slated for this afternoon abruptly handed over the reins of the event to the Black Student Union and campus NAACP chapter on Tuesday, saying they will not lead the protest because they’re part of the “oppressing party.”
“[W]e realize even as organizers that it is not our place to lead this protest, since we are members of the oppressing party of this country,” student co-organizer Kyle Forness stated on the event’s Facebook page. “Instead, it is our obligation as an informed majority to create a platform for Blacks in this country to speak upon, express, and address what they individually feel needs addressing.”
“[W]e have reached out and handed over the reins of this protest to an organization that is composed of individuals who are members of the minority and thus recipients of such oppression, suffering and injustice.”
Some 1,500 people have RSVP’d that they will take part in Wednesday’s die-in at the Diag, described on its Facebook page as “a fight against police oppression, and the systemic oppression of black people in this country.”
In an email to The College Fix, co-organizer student Isaiah Zeavin-Moss said that their role was strictly organizational and suggested they always planned to hand the event over to black student organizations – even though their announcement was only made after receiving “feedback” from the campus community.
“[S]ince the protest is fighting police targeting and killing of black people, and a systematic racism in our country against black people, we felt it best for the people in control at the protest itself to be from a black, student-led organization,” Zeavin-Moss said in his email. “This way, the people who are running things [at the die-in] will have experienced the discrimination that we are fighting first-hand.”
The announcement prompted a robust debate on Facebook on the eve of the event. Some agreed with their decision. Others did not.
On Facebook, participating protestors are reminded to “bring blankets, signs, and energy,” before closing out with: “IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR.”
The Black Student Union and NAACP did not respond to emails from The College Fix seeking comment.
College Fix reporter Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.