Radio silence

Student: Um, yeah, professor… I’m asking for an extension on the exam. I don’t know if you know this or not, but your lectures haven’t been livestreaming for, like, the last two weeks. I haven’t been able to understand the material on my own, and I need some more time.

Me: The lectures haven’t been livestreamed because we no longer have students in active quarantine. I announced this two weeks ago in class and on the livestream last Monday. You didn’t see that?

Student: No.

Me: You didn’t read the email I sent out about it either?

Student: No.

Me: Or read the statement I posted on D2L?

Student: No.

Me: So the class video feed disappears… for two weeks… utterly unexpected to you… and it never occurred to you ask why?

Student: No.

Me: …

Student: So can I have the exam extension?

Me: No.

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Fun fact: almost all of my emails for the past two weeks could have been answered with the following image.

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Yesterday was my first day of face-to-face teaching for Fall 2020.

In order to make this as safe as possible, the lecture hall in which I teach has had most of its seats covered with black garbage bags, leaving only 36 uncovered seats set at lest 6 feet apart from each other. The campus has also instituted a policy of mandatory face masks in all indoor spaces, including my class.

And my first student of the first day of my first class in this new semester?

Walks in without a mask, and sits right in the middle of the lecture hall on one of the garbage-bag-covered spaces.

We are so going back to lock-down by September.

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Say their names. Rest in power.

Over the past seven weeks, I’ve shared the stories of forty-eight Black Americans who died unjustly, often at the hands of the police.

  • Oscar Grant, 22, killed 1/1/2009
  • Ayiana Stanley-Jones, 7, killed 5/16/2010
  • Trayvon Martin, 17, killed 2/26/2012
  • Rekia Boyd, 22, killed 3/21/2012
  • Renisha McBride, 19, killed 11/2/2013
  • Eric Garner, 43, killed 7/17/2014
  • John Crawford III, 22, killed 8/5/2014
  • Michael Brown, 18, killed 8/9/2014
  • Ezell Ford, 27, killed 8/11/2014
  • Laquan McDonald, 17, killed 10/20/2014
  • Tamir Rice, 12, killed 11/22/2014
  • Walter Scott, 50, killed 4/4/2015
  • Freddie Gray Jr, 25, killed 4/12/2015
  • Kalief Browder, 22, hanged 6/6/2015
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, killed 6/17/2015
  • Cythia Hurd, 54, killed 6/17/2015
  • Susie Jackson, 87, killed killed 6/17/2015
  • Ethel Lance, 70, killed 6/17/2015
  • DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49, killed 6/17/2015
  • Clementa Pinckney, 41, killed 6/17/2015
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26, killed 6/17/2015
  • Daniel Simmons, 74, killed 6/17/2015
  • Myra Thompson, 59, killed 6/17/2015
  • Sandra Bland, 28, hanged 7/13/2015
  • Samuel Dubose, 47, killed 7/19/2015
  • Corey Jones, 31, killed 10/18/2015
  • Terrill Thomas, 38, died of thirst 4/24/2016
  • Joseph Mann, 51, killed 7/11/2016
  • Alton Sterling, 37, killed 7/5/2016
  • Philando Castile, 32, killed 7/6/2016
  • Korryn Gaines, 23, killed 8/1/2016
  • Terence Crutcher, 40, killed 9/16/2016
  • Keith Lamont Scott, 43, killed 9/20/2016
  • Jordan Edwards, 15, killed 4/29/2017
  • Aaron Bailey, 45, killed 6/29/2017
  • Ronell Foster, 33, killed 2/13/2018
  • Stephon Clark, 22, killed 3/3/2018
  • Antwon Rose Jr, 17, killed 6/19/2018
  • Botham Jean, 26, killed 9/6/2018
  • Willie McCoy, 25, killed 2/9/2019
  • Pamela Turner, 44, killed 5/13/2019
  • Elijah McClain, 23, killed 8/24/2019
  • Atatiana Jefferson, 28, killed 10/12/2019
  • Christopher Whitfield, 31, killed 10/14/2019
  • Michael Lorenzo Dean, 27, killed 12/2/2019
  • Ahmaud Arbery, 25, killed 2/23/2020
  • Breonna Taylor, 26, killed 3/13/2020
  • George Floyd, 46, killed 5/25/2020

This list is not complete by any stretch of the imagination, and it will regrettably grow longer with time.  What I have written may also contain errors, for though I researched as much as I could about the lives of these people, news about them seems less focused on their lives than their deaths.

Though this project is not over, for the time being, both for my emotional well-being and the time requirements of my job, it will be on hiatus.

I hope they can help you work through your sadness and frustration and despair, and feel that clarifying anger that will not let you to allow this to continue.  To force us to confront police brutality and white supremacy and give us the will to end it.

Black lives matter.

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Terrill Thomas

Terrill Thomas loved cars. The 38-year-old father of six had a passion for luxury cars, a world far removed from his relatively poor upbringing in Milwaukee. T-Buck, as he was known to his friends, was a joyous fellow who loved to help his neighbors. Unfortunately, he also suffered from bipolar disorder, and his struggles with his disability frequently found him on the wrong side of the law. After a 2008 stint in prison, Terrill started planning on a better future for his family. He opened a car lot, selling luxury cars.

Terrill Thomas died in police custody on April 24, 2016, of “profound dehydration.” A little more than a week previous, a Mercedes was stolen from Terrill’s auto lot, triggering a dissociative episode. Terrill pursued the supposed thief to a casino and shot at him. Cops arrested him and booked him at the Milwaukee County Jail. That night, Terrill flooded the cell by clogging the toilet with bedding. As punishment, he was moved to a solitary confinement cell and had the water shut off. He remained there, without water, for seven days. Eight days after being booked, Terrill was found naked on the floor of his cell, having lost 34 pounds, dead of thirst. Three of the jailors would plead guilty to felony neglect, while the sheriff in charge of the jail would go lead a pro-Trump super PAC.

Black lives matter.

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