In Memoriam and Solidarity: A Year in “Post-Racial America”

This article was originally published in the 3rd Issue of Bluestockings Magazine.


January 8

Providence, Rhode Island

The Providence Police Department raids two Cambodian households in the West End, entering without a warrant. The policemen hold everyone at gunpoint, beat a 13-year-old in his sleep, arrest innocent people, and terrorize and humiliate women—including a 77-year-old grandmother. A week later, the Providence Youth Student Movement organizes a march in solidarity demanding an end to racist policing in Providence communities, full disclosure of past home raids in the city, transparency on gang database policies, a public apology from the City, and for the charges to be dropped.


Kendrick Johnson

January 11

Valdosta, Georgia

The body of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old black student from Lowndes County High School, is found behind the school building beaten, wrapped up in a gym mat, and stuffed with newspapers. While his death has been deemed “suspicious” by authorities, no other substantial action has taken place as of yet due to issues of potential “cover ups” including tampered surveillance videos and the Lowndes County Sheriff Office’s assertion that Johnson “accidentally died while reaching for a shoe in one of the mats.”


President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration Speech

January 21

Washington, D.C.

President Obama ceremonially begins his second term with an inaugural address that adds gay and trans* rights to the quests for racial and gender equality. While the speech proclaims a commitment to expanding rights for immigrants and for sexual, racial and gender minorities, President Obama has yet to enact policies that adequately address these issues.


Kimani Gray | Credit: Atlanta Blackstar

March 9

Brooklyn, New York

Kimani Gray, an unarmed 16-year-old black youth, is killed by two plainclothes police officers not far from his home in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. The officers fire 11 shots, three of which hit Gray in the back and kill him. The NYPD calls the incident a “good shooting,” prompting outrage in the community. Several days of protests and riots ensue; approximately 40 demonstrators are arrested.


Lyndon B. Johnson Signing Voting Rights Act of 1965 Into Law

June 25

Washington, D.C.

Post-racial logic wins in the Supreme Court, as a 5-4 vote strikes down the hearing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and allows nine states—mostly in the South—to change election laws without receiving advance federal approval. This decision counters the original purpose of the Act, which sought to prevent barriers to voting for black communities and marginalized groups.


Trayvon Martin

July 13

Sanford, Florida

On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black resident of Stanford, is shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a member of his local “neighborhood watch.” On July 13, 2013, after two days of deliberations, Zimmerman is acquitted on charges of second-degree murder under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Hundreds of “Justice for Trayvon” demonstrations erupt across the nation. Several months later, Zimmerman is arrested and charged for assault after pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend.


Islan Nettles

August 17

Harlem, New York

Islan Nettles, a 21-year old black trans* woman, is brutally beaten to death across the street from New York City’s Police Service Area Six precinct. Several witnesses see 20-year-old Paris Wilson at the scene violently confront Nettles upon realizing that she is transgender. Charges are dropped after claims of “insufficient evidence.”


Jonathan Ferrell

September 14

Charlotte, North Carolina

Jonathan Ferrell, 24-year-old black man, has a car accident and knocks on the door of a white family’s home for help. Police respond to a breaking-and-entering call from the owner of the house, and Officer Randall Kerrick fatally shoots Ferrell. Officer Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter and remains on the police force.


Dr. Prabhjot Singh

September 21

Harlem, New York

Dr. Prabhjot Singh is assaulted on a Saturday evening while walking along 110th Street near Lenox Avenue in Upper Manhattan. Suspects shout Islamophobic statements at him before physically attacking him. Dr. Singh is a practicing medical doctor in East Harlem and an assistant professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.


Student Assaulted by Fellow Students

October 14

San Jose, California

Police launch an investigation concerning a series of incidents at San Jose State University occurring since August 2013. Three white freshmen—Colin Warren, Joseph Bomgardner, and Logan Beaschler—are charged with committing racist acts against a fellow African-American roommate, which included using racial epithets like “three-fifths” and “fraction,” putting a bike lock around his neck, writing the N-word on dry eraser boards, and hanging Nazi symbols around the apartment.


Protestors Against Ray Kelly Coming to Brown

October 29

Providence, Rhode Island

An organized group of students and members of the greater Providence community protest and shut down a Brown-sponsored lecture by NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly. Their mantra: “Racism is not up for debate.” Kelly is responsible for current stop-and-frisk practices, which disproportionately target people of color. Organizers and protesters face backlash from members of the administration and student body.


Ray Kelly

October 31

Washington, D.C.

A federal appeals court blocks changes to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy after Judge Shira Scheindlin rules the practice of stop-and-frisk to be unconstitutional. Scheindlin is removed from the case for “compromising impartiality.”


November 11

Los Angeles, California

California bans affirmative action in the late 1990s, prompting a major decline in the percentages of black and Latino students enrolled in UCLA. Black student Sy Stokes and the Black Bruins present a video calling attention to the fact that only 3.3% of the student body are black men and that UCLA has “more national championships [than] black male freshmen.” The video goes viral with over a million views.


Joseph Williams

November 12

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Joseph Williams, a 14-year-old black youth, and two older relatives are caught shoplifting at a local Walmart and arrested. During the arrest, an already handcuffed Williams begins to run, allegedly compelling police to taser him in the face “to protect him from traffic.”


Marissa Alexander

November 13

Jacksonville, Florida

Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old black woman, was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband. Due to nationwide protest, a judge awards Alexander a new trial, but denies her bail and delays further action on the case until January 15, 2014. The “Stand Your Ground” law that acquitted George Zimmerman keeps Alexander in prison.


Students Dress Up As Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman



The phenomenon of “Trayvonning”—making reference to the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin by dressing up like him and pretending to be shot—reaches its peak with a highly publicized Facebook photo of two white men from Florida, Greg Cimeno, 22, and William Filene, 25, dressing up in blackface as Martin and Zimmerman.


Renisha McBride

November 2

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old black woman, knocks on the door of a white man’s home to ask for help after a car accident. Theodore Wafer, thinking McBride was breaking into his home, shoots her in the face with a rifle, killing her instantly.


November 17

McCalla, Alabama

Students at McAdory High School create and prominently display a banner which reads, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears Round 2,” for a football game against rival team, the Prison Valley High Indians. The principal of the school has since apologized.


November 19

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The University of Michigan Black Student Union launches a Twitter conversation on “being black at University of Michigan,” after a fraternity plans a “Hood Rachet Thursday” Party. The university eventually cancels the party because of its racist, sexist, and classist invitation.


November 20


The International Transgender Day of Remembrance serves to memorialize those killed due to anti-transgender prejudice. This year, the annual Remembrance Report states that in the last 12 months there have been 238 worldwide cases of anti-transgender murders, and since January 1, 2008 a reported total of 1,374 murders worldwide. Trans* people of color are disproportionately affected by racial profiling and violence.


The Scottsboro Boys

November 21

Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama grants posthumous pardons to three African-American men who had yet to be exonerated for false allegations of rape 80 years ago. The three men, Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems and Andy Wright, were part of the “Scottsboro Boys,” nine black Alabama teenagers falsely convicted of gang-raping two white women in 1931 by all-white juries.


Earl Sampson

November 23

Miami Garden, Florida

Earl Sampson is arrested again by police for “trespassing” at his local convenience store—where he is also employed. Over the last four years, Sampson has been stopped and questioned by the police 258 times, searched more than 100 times, and jailed 56 times. The police department is now being charged for racial profiling in this case.

By Paige Allen, Kristy Choi, Nicole Hasslinger, Amanda Jones, Amy LaCount & Radhika Rajan

Image Selected by Ragna Rök Jóns, Courtesy of Google Images


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