Though it’s difficult to admit, the topic of race is still as dividing and mystifying as it was 50 years ago.
This idea has never been so clear as in the recent arrests of Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden, two black males charged with the murders of USC graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, who were shot in cold blood in the early morning of April 11.
The school and the Los Angeles Police Department have been vigilant in attempting to catch the killers. Finally, some sort of justice might be done.
Yet instead of rejoicing over the fact that two alleged murderers are off our streets, a surprising amount of attention has been pointed toward the two suspects’ race.
Commenters on an online Daily Trojan article posted some troubling thoughts, such as “I already suspected that the villains are African American . . . and I was right.” Other commenters have even referenced George Zimmerman, a suspect in the shooting of a black teenager, and how Zimmerman could have stopped Barnes and Bolden.
It’s terrifying to think that someone would advocate shooting based on racial profiling as a preemptive strike to murder. Even though such comments are naturally hyperbolic, it’s still quite easy to see that the topic of race isn’t going away any time soon. Though the suspects’ race is usually released for the public to help law enforcement catch them, it seems as if it’ll become a focal point in this case.
Race shouldn’t matter. After all, race is purely a social construct, and no biological difference whatsoever exists between races.
Unfortunately, that fact will probably not change the opinion of some people, which begs the question: Why?
Is it because we, as students, live in a predominantly black and Hispanic community? Is it because black men make up 40.2 percent of all incarcerated males, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report? Or is it something else, something more under the radar and troubling?
Some would say that when a Caucasian man is convicted of a murder, he doesn’t represent his race — he’s simply just a murderer who happened to be white. The same perception should apply to all races.
South Los Angeles is not a dangerous place because of the black and Hispanic population. It’s a dangerous place because it’s filled with gang activity and people who feel as if they have no choice but to steal and kill to survive. An isolated incident has led some students to fear people who had nothing to do with the attack, largely because of assumptions based on skin color.
Were the devastating murders of Qu and Wu in retaliation for something? A gang initiation? A robbery gone wrong? Though the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office says it was a “botched robbery,” we might never know what really happened.
What we do know is that their deaths should not be overshadowed by the race of their suspected killers. Instead of focusing on color, we should be making our school a better and safer place — for all.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in film critical studies and lifestyle editor for the Summer Trojan.