Kasandra Michelle Perkins: We Must Say Her Name
December 3, 2012
By David J. Leonard
In the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, and the subsequent suicide of Jovan Belcher, much of the media and social media chatter have focused on Belcher. Indeed, Kasandra Michelle Perkins has been an afterthought in public conversations focused on questions regarding the Chiefs’ ability to play, concussions, masculinity, guns, and the culture of football in the aftermath of this tragedy. Over at the always brilliant Crunk Feminist Collective website, one member described the situation in sobering terms:
Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as “(his) girlfriend.”
Mike Lupica, at the NY Daily News, offered a similar criticism about our focus and misplaced priorities:
That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.
She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.
Kasandra Michelle Perkins
While disheartening and indefensible, I get the turn towards concussions, guns, and the masculinity of sporting cultures. The murder-suicide shines a spotlight on a number of issues that many have been grappling with for many years. It encapsulates people’s discomfort about a culture that condones on-the-field violence that may contribute to so much pain off-the-field. It highlights society’s moral failures whereupon profits are put in front of people. There will be a time for these conversations, but for now the spotlight needs to be on Kasandra Michelle Perkins.
Upon hearing about this tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, I too turn my attention to these issues; I am guilty of this failure, having tweeted about concussions, suicide, and the culture of the NFL. These issues are real, but so is the tragic death of Kasandra Michelle Perkins.
Kasandra Michelle Perkins cannot be a footnote. She cannot be an afterthought.
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