It always scary when the tragedy on the television hits home. When you see people that look like you, talk like you, and dress like you on the news in cold-blood or afraid for their lives something stirs in you. Your security and everything you value comes into question. Your perspective is narrowed to one thing and one thing only… will I be next?
Racism was never something I could turn my blind eye to. I grew up with parents who weren’t radical, but educated and aware of their state as black people in America. I always knew that because of our skin color we were discriminated against, we were treated unfairly, and even killed. I knew it was wrong, and I knew that white privilege existed.
But as much as I thought I knew, I was still very much so ignorant.
I believed that although racism was alive and well, we as a people had progressed too far from the Civil Rights Movement for it to be detrimentally relevant. We had overcome, we had fought our fight… right?
It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I realized I was horribly wrong.
As a twenty-one year old, I’m even more so aware of the faults in my childhood belief. Racism is not just something to think about when scrolling through old, black and white photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is not something to simply analyze in the month of February. It is something that is screaming at us every single day, and as comforting as ingorance may be it can no longer be our safe haven.
Even if I decided not to read the news or turn my television to CNN, the first thing I see on social media is reports of another dead black man or another blatant exhibition of discrimination against black people. Not for the way we dress, not for the way we talk, but simply because we have black skin.
Being a college student at an HBCU, the recent display of racism occurring at the University of Missouri has left me at a loss. I cherish the institution I attend and am abundantly privileged to be able to find security, acceptance, and wisdom here. So to hear about black students who were not able to receive the same experience based on their race angered me. Regardless if the college or university is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) or a PWI (Predominantly White Institution), it has the responsibility to protect, support and represent each and every student in attendance.
The events that have occurred at #mizzou have sparked a media fire, as it should. Students sharing their varied instances of racism, which were not being handled by university president Tim Wolfe, appalled people everywhere especially black collegiate youth. But the vigilance of the students protesting was starkly motivational and inspiring. It brought together students of color across the country, rallying in support of the movement.
As I read the story, I immediately found myself with that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized this story of racism had taken a step closer to home.
The protests at #mizzou by Concerned Student 1950, the football team, graduate student Jonathan Butler, and many others resulted in the university president’s resignation. But before the students of color could get too deep into their celebration, they were hammered with racist threats jeopardizing their lives.
Since the release of the threats arrests have been made however, I could not wrap my mind around the idea that people in 2015 have the gall to be so hateful towards black people. The existence of racism is something America loves to push under the rug, but that rug has been ripped up and lit on fire.
We have literally reached the point where at any moment, regardless of your education or socio-economic standing, you can be reduced down to a “nigger.”
You can be reduced down to a victim.
But we’ve also reached the point where at any moment, you can be challenged to be revolutionary.
Having to step into either role is scary, but we are the generation that can evoke change. Yes generations before us made strides and fought for us, but we still have a lot of fighting left to do. And if you can’t fight or don’t even know how to start, at least you can #staywoke. There can be no more closed mouths or shut eyes. This effects ALL of us.
It’s not just the people in the hood, it’s not just the people in suspicious clothing, it is EVERYONE.
I’m fearful of where things are headed, because I know that you cannot always erase hate from the mind, but I am confident that this battle is not an impossibility. This is a call to action–a challenge–and although I’m still learning how to fight effectively, I will never be blind again.