UF business student John Jones misrepresents both the email sent by David Parrott and the overall situation in this country to which the email pertains. Nowhere in Parrott’s email does he imply violence is only committed against African-Americans. He mentions several recent tragedies in which black people were killed by the police in order to promote an event on the subject. Just because a specific type of violence is mentioned in a short email does not mean the sender is implying no other types of violence exist.
Using the statistics provided by Jones, we see that 25 percent of people killed by the police this year were African-American. If we look at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we see that African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population. Clearly, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by police violence. Furthermore, the census also shows that 40 percent of the large prison population in this country is African-American, showing that they are also disproportionately affected by the legal system in this country. Surely this warrants discussion.
By sending an email regarding an event co-hosted by a department within the Division of Student Affairs, Parrott is clearly doing his job by promoting this event and encouraging students to “stand together and participate.” Also, I don’t think the statement is going to be retracted anytime soon, since UF President Kent Fuchs himself showed up at the event.
I fail to see how Parrott’s reference to recent tragedies, which have been reported in the news and are events in which the readers of his email are presumably familiar with, makes Parrott complicit in spreading some “false narrative.” I also fail to see how he portrays whites as racists, since he never mentions white people directly or indirectly in his email.
Expressing outrage at the disproportionate killing of African Americans by the police does not somehow mean that anyone is less upset about violence committed against other Americans. When a group of people is disproportionately affected by the legal system of their country, it is natural to be outraged, as the system meant to protect them is being employed to do the opposite. Furthermore, saying systematic violence and disenfranchisement aimed at African Americans is an important issue that needs to be discussed does not mean this issue should be discussed to the exclusion of other issues. Saying “all violence matters” is trite and serves to direct attention away from a concrete problem — the systematic violation of the rights of African-Americans — to an abstract discussion of violence that cannot hope to accomplish anything.
In closing, I ask that Jones exclude me from the “we” he threw me and about 87 percent of this country into without our permission. Between Parrott and Jones, it seems to me that Jones does a lot more to divide the Student Body into an “us” and “them” than Parrott’s short email would ever be capable of.