The Remedy

Malik S. Wright

It is a great and terrible cause that has brought us together. The fires of hate and prejudice have burnished the very soul of our university. Branded with simple, yet violent words, words like “n****r” and “lynch” and “slave” not uttered, like in times past, from the blood-soaked soil of a southern plantation, but written upon the walls of an academic building here at our fair institution. And while I would be hard-pressed to find amongst us today people who are mystified or unaware of the latent malice that has been allowed to fester beneath the skin of our institution, I would be surprised to find someone who has ever sought to stop it, not even myself. But today, we meet at a crossroads for what is and what could be. No longer should we stand for negativity that seeks to transform all of our inherent beauty into the ugliness of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. We have an opportunity starting right now to stand up to those who seek to bring fear and loathing into our community, to stand up to those who seek to hide that fear with veiled words of complacency, that dare to ask us to sit down in the presence of those who would stand against the cause of tolerance and love of all people. I dare those who want to perpetuate these evil and malicious sentiments to stand up today. We must dare them to stand against tolerance, love, unity, and peace. We must dare them not simply with our words this day, but with our actions.

This campus is divided not by law or mandate, but by the unseen and unaddressed separation that arises when people do not and will not understand the differences that make each other special. We cannot allow the walls that were used to separate friends and communities in the streets of our cities long ago to stand, the same walls erected on our borders to keep mothers from sons, the same walls built to confine the innocent with an unfair judicial system, the same walls riddled with the hatred that grows from the seeds of ignorance.

Now rest assured, we will be mollified and pacified, and placated and appeased, like in times past, in hopes that we will simply forget and forgive, but forget we will not. No longer will we allow our views and needs be packaged into a neat “diversity” plan meant to ease the hearts and minds of our progressive donors. We will not be appeased with words, but only with true and sincere action, and we must stand up to complacency and say, “enough!”

Enough to feeling like the black sheep in an institution that is ours too. Enough to being the only one in class forced to speak not only for yourself, but your entire community. Enough to our majority peers on this campus spotlighting and glamourizing the worst aspects of our community. Enough to being told to join Greek organizations that do not and cannot possibly represent our diverse cultures and traditions. Enough to having our academic aptitude questioned. Enough to the sugar coating, softening, sweetening that only allows the infection of hatred to further rot under the skin. Enough to explaining the validity and necessity of the Harlem Renaissance Center to a campus that segregates themselves from the truth. Enough to tokenism, image without action, and all the other tricks that try to make our meager 25 percent seem sufficient. Enough to safe havens, safe houses, being vandalized with no substantive action to change the culture of homophobia and heterosexism that fostered that behavior. Enough to faculty who don’t represent us nor understand our many varying cultures. Enough to tolerance and acceptance of latent racism and prejudice that is perpetuated by a culture of superficiality.

We love and honor this institution and because of that, we must fight for its heart and soul. If we allow the ignorance, intolerance and hatred that was written on that wall, and undoubtedly in some minds, to stand, then we will all fall in the face of a growing and multicultural world. Those racial attacks were made against not only our community, but all people. Until there is no corner of this campus, not even a bathroom stall, where this form of malice is tolerated, we must stand and stand with one another. The only way to accomplish this task is with unity not only amongst ourselves, but with all our brothers and sisters. Today we will stand together, because it is together that we can move the very mountains upon which we gather today, and together we will change this campus and this world. With the power that lies in our very being, we will make our voices roar in every classroom, in every dorm, every building, until our mission blazes from this campus and warms the very face of God.