So I've been thinking about Taylor Bradford, the University of Memphis student killed on campus, since Monday, and I felt like I should say something about it, but I didn't know what... I'm sorry if this is disjointed, it's just a gathering of my various streams of thought.
There are people who have said that this student athlete's murder would not have made national news were he not a football player. I don't agree. As a former band geek, I have traditionally been overly sensitive to athletes' special treatment, and I just don't see it here. Especially in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, this would be news. Admittedly, it did receive more coverage given that ESPN was in town last night to broadcast a game-- a game scheduled oddly on Tuesday that coincidentally fell the night following the murder of a player. The emotion was higher and the tributes more powerful than they would have been had the game not been played til Saturday. But this guy? He wasn't (as far as anyone knows) murdered for being a football player. He was just a guy, apparently a really nice one, and he got shot on his way to get chicken wings.
I think about the fact that I lived in the very on-campus apartment complex in which this shooting occurred when I was an 18 year old freshman at the U of M. What would I have felt had this happened during that time? Would I be comforted by the fact that this is presumed to be a targeted shooting and not a random act of violence? Maybe. Maybe I would have returned to classes yesterday without concern for my own safety. However, while the police seem convinced that the shooting was not random, they also seem to have no clue who did it or why.
It makes me angry that the response of some people was, "well, there's Memphis for you." What? Cause students are shot and killed regularly on the U of M campus? No, I don't think so. I know that many people take great pleasure in pointing out Memphis' flaws, and it is a violent city, but campus murders just don't fall into that category. Campus is supposed to be different. Campus is supposed to be sacred. Maybe it's naive of me to think that about an urban University, especially one so open to outsiders.
I'm proud of my hometown. I didn't leave Memphis because of its ridiculous politics, because I hated it, because it was too violent, or even because of The Hot. And I refuse to think that Memphis has gotten to the point that this kind of thing is expected or usual or "normal." I hope that Memphians will support the U of M in doing whatever it needs to do to make the campus and its students safe.
That is all.