Recess Blog

Just Reading is Deadly in America

By Rob Schroeder
December 15, 2016

Marcus Croom (photo, below) is a student in the PhD Literacy, Language and Culture program at the College of Education.  In this op-ed he wrote for Medium, he describes his reactions towards claims that Keith Lamont Scott was reading a book when he was confronted and shot by police in a Charlotte parking lot.

A photo of Marcus Croom standing in front of a mural painted on a school wall.

In my home state, a local police officer in Charlotte killed a disabled American citizen. The Charlotte-Mecklenberg District Attorney has reported how Mr. Keith Lamont Scott went from waiting in his car to dead on the street.  Initially, some witnesses steadfastly reported that Mr. Scott was reading a book as he waited for his child to return from an ordinary school day. Now, these claims have been reported as rumor. Nonetheless, investigators are still sorting out this troubling case.

I first heard about Mr. Scott’s death through Facebook. As I meandered through my feed, I was tagged into a Facebook live stream protesting the killing. After watching the raw video and scanning the swell of outraged posts, it struck me that many of the comments repeatedly urged that Mr. Scott, a Black man, had been killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police when he was just reading a book.

I was jarred by imagining this juxtaposition: a book and a Black body both laying on blacktop...

I thought of the situation this way: Do we have any reason to doubt that both Mr. Scott and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers, one who killed him on that fateful day, were all able to read and write? Did these particular literacies — print literacies — even matter as Mr. Scott’s Black life came to its end?...

My naked argument: Just reading and writing is deadly in America. Every person in the U.S. must also develop racial literacies.

Read the full op-ed at Medium.

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