Updated: Feb 27
Last Friday during a student run Black Lives Matter panel, an anti-Black racist incident occurred when a hijacker interrupted the discussion with hate speech and obscene images. It is the responsibility of Salisbury University and it's nonblack students to start uprooting institutionalized anti-Blackness. This is about much more than one incident.
Black people are the backbone of this entire country, not just SU.
It is not a Black person’s job to explain a history of racial trauma and ignorance — but, time and time, again Black people are forced to do so.
This should be a cooperation between all communities. When one of us is harmed, everyone in the SU community should act out of care for one another.
"Intersectionality is what drives human existence," SU NAACP Chapter President Dorien Rogers said. "Amplifying and uplifting the voices of your fellow community members of different backgrounds, not just based on race, based on sexual orientation, based on disability, based on class, et cetera... Recognizing the experiences and then asking what support is, and then finally empower each other."
Rogers said SU should put more funding towards IT to create security within open discussions over Zoom. Administration also needs development of its policies through code of conduct to ensure "hate doesn't have a home here." HR needing to look into staff members for prejudices and faculty senate needing to update on what has been happening.
Support should not come out only after a hate crime takes place. It should not have to be Black History Month to celebrate Black voices. Nonblack people of color need to unify and help the Black community, as the most systemically oppressed.
Doing the work is not isolated to one's own beliefs, but what is done with them. It should be a goal to educate all communities where anti-Blackness is prevalent.
Miscommunication online and in SU President Charles Wight's emails falsely identified the event as a Black History Month panel.
Freshman panel speaker Joshua Weeks acknowledged the university's mistake at Saturday's rally.
"[With] Black History Month, we're celebrating the fight of our ancestors, but when you think about a Black Lives Matter panel, we are literally talking about the death of these black individuals," Weeks said. "It was a Black Lives Matter panel. It was not a Black History Month panel."
SU NAACP’s Unity in the Community rally had a surprisingly low turnout for a Saturday event promoted on social media. We go to a predominantly white institution and I could
count the number of white people and nonblack people of color combined on my fingers. There should be far more support than this.
The rally was held on the two-year anniversary of racist vandalism at SU.
The previous day's Black Lives Matter panel focused on SU's accomplishments and need for more development. Neither SGA nor SU administration sent out emails recognizing either event.
Weeks praised the university's quick response to the incident, sending out a campus-wide email and contacting him through the Salisbury University Police Department to get his statement on what happened.
"A lot of people messaged me talking about, 'Oh my gosh, I'm sorry about what happened,' and I love that but, people say that [and] aren't going to these events that talk about the racism on campus," Weeks said. "So your words have to match with your actions. If you say Black lives matter, then where were you at these events?"
Some students perform tributes, repost events they do not attend or send out white guilt apologies. People who are living and fighting for their rights, basic protections, equity and equality are so important and deserving of much more than this.
"We are important, we matter. So you should be out there fighting with us, talking about it... It's always, 'I've got stuff to do' when it comes to marginalized groups. No. Go out there and make a change. Actually do something." Weeks said.
Within our communities, it is completely necessary to call one another out. We must have these conversations with loved ones on racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other learned forms of hatred.
Actions speak louder than words.
By SUMMER SMITH
Featured image courtesy of Benjamin Lausch.