Amidst a wave of national protests against racial injustice in the United States and the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23, undergraduate student Rajat Kodira started a solo protest on Kansas State’s campus.
Since the shooting of Jacob Blake, a man police officers shot seven times from behind at close range while he attempted to get into his car, Kodira was reminded of the struggles and barriers people of color experience daily.
Kodira participated in the George Floyd protests in Kansas City this year, where he said he was tear-gassed by police officers, but the tragedy with Jacob Blake inspired him to bring protests at K-State.
Kodira arrived at the corner of Manhattan Ave. and Anderson Ave. the morning of Aug. 28 at 9:00 a.m. and left at 2:00 p.m. for an appointment, only to return and remain at the corner until 6:00 p.m.
He stood the entire time in solitude with the Black Lives Matter movement and was the only person near campus protesting.
Kodira held a sign which read, “Wolves disguised as sheep patrol our streets,” so all the cars that passed the corner could read the words clearly.
“I told myself then that I wouldn’t stop until the issues we are advocating for come to fruition,” he said.
Kodira said although he is a person of color, since he is Indian he does not fully understand the struggles of people in the Black, Asian, Latino or other communities.
He believes empathy must exist to create useful change in the world.
“There’s that saying, like, ‘Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.’ But I would say I don’t think that’s necessarily enough to get the full scope of experience,” Kodira said.
Although Kodira said there will be a virtual event for the Black Lives Matter movement in Manhattan, he had hoped to see a more organized and prominent effort from those who protested previously this year on July 4.
Even though the Kansas State campus is composed of mainly white students, Kodira’s feedback from passersby has been mainly positive.
In his efforts, Kodira hopes to bring to light the struggles people of color face to the white community.
“I wanted to stand here so that everyone who walks by has to think about it [the struggles for people of color] at least once today,” Kodira said.