SOAR discusses the killing of Tyre Nichols

Tragedy sparks call for change


Lex Lee

Senior Stayci Spates speaks out against racism Feb. 14. SOAR had their first meeting Tuesday after having their last meeting canceled.

Johanna Kaplan and Serena Bovee

Following the beating and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols by Memphis policemen, Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) hosted a space for discussion Feb. 14. Sophomore Anisa Kahin, who led the meeting, said having a session centered on this was a top priority.

“As soon as I got the news of Tyre Nichols’ murder, I knew that I wanted to have a sit-down,” Kahin said.

According to sophomore Amina Omar, bringing attention to Tyre Nichols’ case ultimately highlights an overarching theme of systemic racism. 

“It is important because it isn’t talked about enough and (we need to talk about) how bad it is in America, how our nation is majorly led by white supremacy and how the government is controlled by white people,” Omar said. “Learning about different cases is important because it exposes the injustices caused by our nation.”

It can be hard to confront the truth in situations like this, according to SOAR advisor Dr. Lee-Ann Stephens. 

“We also like to give racism a pass sometimes because we ignore it, because (we think) the idea of racism might go away if we ignore it,” Stephens said. “It’s not like that, racism won’t just disappear.”

According to Kahin, it is exhausting to see that cases like Tyre Nichols continue to happen despite movements for change. 

“Sadly, it’s really common, and a lot of us have been wanting to put an end to this, and we’ve wanted systems that uphold these beliefs, these types of things, to come to an end, but it’s never gotten to that point,” Kahin said. 

Junior Aliya Ade said that due to an inherently racist policing system, there are a variety of factors that play into this case. 

“It is not okay, but the system never changes, and it is sad that people are not being held accountable,” Ade said. “And there isn’t just one set thing — there are many things.”

According to Stephens, law enforcement’s response only further emphasizes the weight of systemic racism. 

“For the most part, the five Black cops were fired (and were) not even put on paid administrative leave, nor really even investigated,” Stephens said. “They were just jailed, whereas the White cops were investigated and put on administrative leave.”

The Black cops may have lost sight of the fact that they too could be victims of racism, according to Kahin.

“(The cops) forgot that they were also Black men in this scenario. They forgot that their badge wouldn’t still hold them back from not being held accountable,” Kahin said.

For any students that are interested in learning how to combat racism both within and outside of a school setting, according to Stephens, SOAR is the perfect club to join.

“If you really are passionate about being an anti-racist person and you are passionate about making our school more equitable, this is the organization for you,” Stephens said.

If you are interested in joining SOAR, email Dr. Stephens, at @[email protected].