“Use this ribbon as a noose” was written on a yellow ribbon tied to a tree for every passerby to see. Lingering words of hatred and disdain desecrated a ribbon intended to show support and remembrance of Veteran’s Day. A noose — a tied rope historically utilized as a cruel, malicious tool to hang, to lynch, to sentence thousands of black men, women and children to death.
Since this past weekend Davis hosted the Student of Color Conference, the timing of this vandalism could not have been more strategic. Students of Color from all the UCs convened to celebrate and educate one another on diversity and the issues affecting communities of color.
Yet, this act committed by an unknown assailant has not been the only hate-crime committed this year. Additionally, earlier this year a napkin folded to replicate a Klu Klux Klan hood was taped to the wall of the African American themed floor in Campbell Hall. Even after these incidents, another act of racial insensitivity occurred.
“Jungle Fever” was an article written by Medha Sridhar exclaiming her newfound infatuation with black men and rap music. However, the term “jungle fever” is reminiscent of an era in America when interracial relationships were not only illegal, but black men and women were brutally murdered for it. Whether these statements were malevolent acts or foolish, insensitive actions, students must recognize it as wrong and unacceptable.
Every student can recognize blatant, disrespectful and derogatory acts of racism. However, the significance of historically stigmatized words and symbols that are directly associated with racism, bigotry and prejudice can no longer be ignored. Many students of color, (yes, not only the African American community), are outraged by the ignorance displayed within these three acts.
As a black male, I have no problem with Sridhar’s newfound “love” of rap music and black men. Nonetheless, her article is disrespectful to both black males and the African American community. It is disrespectful because she claims to have a “better understanding of African American culture” simply because she listens to “ghetto rap music”. Other than the fact African Americans mostly create rap music, the majority of lyrics speak about the experiences of the rapper not the listener. Additionally, rap music is not intrinsically ghetto nor does it speak on the history, culture or overall experience of African Americans.
Jamila Cambridge, a senior community and regional development major and member of BSU, feels “the most offensive hate crimes aren’t the ones that are so blatant and extreme. The most offensive hate crimes are more insidious.” She recognizes allies to communities of color who support during times of outright racism. Although she begs the question, “Will you stand in solidarity with me in other moments when the insidious, underhanded, stereotypical comments are made?”
I would advocate for campus-wide diversity training. Recently, the campus has required that students attend a workshop on campus violence prevention addressing issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment during freshman orientation and welcome week. A similar requirement should be implemented. Instead, the topics should include diversity training incorporating issues on race, sexual orientation, gender, religion and ability (only to name a few).
I invite Sridhar and any other student wishing to learn about the African American experience and issues on campus to attend a BSU meeting. You should not be “intimidated”. Each day, I attend a class of 150 students and am the only one of my race. If you are of a different race, attending a gathering of your fellow African Americans students may give you a taste of how it feels to be “the only one”. It is what African American students deal with daily. This experience is a greater representation of the African American experience on campus than rap music.
Senior economics major
If you want to share your concerns or defenses of these actions contact CAMERON BROWN at firstname.lastname@example.org.