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Black Lives Matter

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez debuted at her very first Met Gala sporting a beautiful off-the-shoulder white dress, “TAX THE RICH” scrawled in red grunge lettering on the back. The irony did not go unnoticed. On the surface, it is a simple phrase meant to call out the unfair taxation rates across different economic classes. But within the context of the gala, her message came across as a crass attempt at “woke” activism.

If you ask a Stony Brook University student about activism on campus, they’d likely have little, if anything, to say. To Mitchel Cohen, a student from 1965 to 1975, that reality is hard to swallow. Just half a century ago, Cohen’s days were punctuated with protests on what, according to him, was the most politically active campus on the East Coast. As it turns out, the history of Long Island’s “sleeper campus” is littered with smashed windows, smoke bombs and student arrests.

On June 6, the baby-boomer battles between left and right at a hallowed Long Island intersection collided with an outpour of younger people calling to end police brutality and systemic inequality. Over 250 peaceful protesters co-opted this battleground for a three-hour Black Lives Matter protest and unknowingly threw tradition by the wayside when nearly 100 of them crossed North Country Road — No Man’s Land — infiltrating the land held by the Patriots for nearly two decades. 

I remember sitting in my grandmother’s home in Jamaica, in the sweltering heat, confused as to why George Zimmerman was acquitted after killing Trayvon Martin. 

I was twelve. 

Since then, countless people have died at the hands of police — their killings preserved on dashcam or bystander video, while many others were never filmed.