Last Monday, a Black doll was found hanging in a shared shower of a dorm room in Best Hall. After this incident, Black students, including myself, are unsure whether Eastern Michigan University cares about students of color or are just using them as a token to show that they are diverse.
As more racial incidents hit the spotlight, more higher education politics become exposed. In this Trump era, we see many closeted racists come out of hiding and proclaim their “ways” to the world.
Countless reports of hate crimes are occurring across the United States at various colleges, including EMU. We know this isn’t the first or the last. These reported instances are continuations of repeated behavior that thrives off hatred.
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has noted each and every racial incident that has occured on college campuses across the nation. As I looked, I found that the racist graffiti incident from 2016 here at EMU was also included in this list.
Black students already have a number of odds stacked against them. As we try to obtain a degree, become someone–whether it be for the family or for ourselves–we shouldn’t always have to be conscious on how to govern, hide or shrink because some people may see our blackness as a threat. Students, including myself, are tired of constantly having to think about our blackness and how it shows up in spaces that could cost us our lives from in the classroom, to riding in the car, to playing at the park, the list goes on.
“No matter which route we take, it's the same outcome. I’m tired of how we’re always looked at as the aggressors or how we can misunderstand things,” Nailah Leggett, senior at EMU.
The culture here at EMU needs a major shifting, starting with hearing the students first. Frequently, higher-ups throw the words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ around so often without asking the students for their definitions. Those two words can be quantified, but what about qualified? These resources on campus are here to serve us but do they have Black students in mind at the end of the day?
Does Eastern have a history of racism? Last month for the MLK Celebration, I had the opportunity to even hear Mark Lee, a professor at EMU, talk about his experience as student body president during the ‘70s. As a Black man, his very own existence was threatened on numerous occasions. He had to deal with those things as a student and I see no difference now.
I recently read an article, “Taking Great Risk,” explaining how the 50 year anniversary–Feb. 20, 1969–of student activists demanding change on Eastern’s campus is approaching. These student activists required action by locking themselves in Pierce Hall and here we are still protesting and seeking answers for these constant incidents that have us outraged all over again.
According to the FBI, in 2017, law enforcement agencies reported that 4,832 single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry. Of those offenses, 48.8 percent were motivated by anti-Black or African-American bias. For decades, hate crimes have been known and prevalent on college campuses. Amid the widespread of social media, news and other media outlets that capture the visual elements, these incidents become publicized quickly. By failing to address students’ concerns after these situations, the trust dies and students suffer.
If you feel the need to get involved, seek out organizations such as Black Student Union on social media @emu_bsu or President Shayler Richmond, and NAACP on social media @naacp_emu or President Kya Fordham. Get involved and see why these organizations are here to serve students. Our community is greater when we are truly unified and have a plan of action. We have voices and demand them to be heard. Fight for what’s right.