Recent events should spark campus discussion on race

On Oct. 16, 1995, Minister Louis Farrakhan led more than a million black men to Washington D.C. to demand their right to justice, and to realize they are needed as the head of their families. With not a single fight that day, and the exclusion of alcohol and drugs at the march; the world saw a portrayal of black men that the media rarely focused on; a human side.

On Oct. 10, 2015, Minister Farrakhan has scheduled a 20th anniversary rally for the Million Man March, however this march focuses on changing the country, rather than the individual. This march is focused on equality under the law, and is using the slogan “justice or else.” Demanding justice for blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, Latinos, women and ultimately any group in this country that is treated unjustly.

The University of Kentucky was founded in 1865, and has witnessed our country change drastically. But whether the campus has changed is a question that may be hard to face. In 2008, an effigy of President Barack Obama was found hanging from a tree outside of the Mining and Minerals Resource Building. In 2011 a sign that read “How Do You Spell N*gger? OBAMA” was found at a bus stop near campus.

This prompted students to march through campus, carrying signs that asked the university where they stood on the argument of racism. After this event, Judy Jackson, Vice President for Institutional Diversity at the time, made the statement, “We as a country have not yet had the courage to grapple with a lot of these issues, and we, as a college campus are a microcosm of this country.”

After the death of Trayvon Martin and the events in Ferguson, Mo., our country is starting to open up to conversations on these issues, but has our campus?

After the death of Michael Brown, and in protest of events that were happening in Ferguson and New York, a “die-in” was organized and held in the William T. Young Library. During the die-in, Yik Yak, a social media app that allows users to post anonymous comments, was filled with racist language. Some posts read, “there’s a pile of mud on the Willy T. Library floor” and “whites study, black people do dumb sh*t while bitching about being held back.”

President Eli Capilouto sent out a campus wide statement about the event, but that seems to be the end of the conversation. Dr. Lachin Hatemi, who graduated from UK Medical School, recently made claims that professors in the school had a different attitude when they were dealing with African American students. He claimed they were portrayed as unintelligent, aggressive and confrontational; characteristics that he never saw out of his peers. Dr. Hatemi said, “They always say we don’t have enough black doctors, but it’s not because they’re not qualified. Certain people still believe minorities don’t belong there.”

Political science freshman, Bear Brown stated that he “definitely” would be interested in attending the anniversary of the march if the university sent a group, or if a club or organization on campus planned on attending. He also did not know that the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was approaching.

“I think that I should have gotten an announcement or something from the black student union,” said biology sophomore Julia Parker, “I had no clue this was even coming up.”

It turns out, not even the Black Student Union was aware of the anniversary of the march. When asked if she was aware of the upcoming anniversary, vice president of the BSU, Dasia Johnson, could only respond with “no”, stating that due to homecoming events, the organization could not focus on the march. Johnson did state that BSU is, “interested in some type of watch party,” where students who are interested can come together and watch the march take place.

This march is about equality for all Americans, not just African Americans. The conversation has started around the country, yet seems to be halted on our campus. Students and faculty alike need to realize that our campus is not perfect, and that the only way to better campus is to open up to the idea that it isn’t perfect. It is necessary to accept that changes need to be made, in order for the changes to come. It is time for this university to become a, “community where everyone feels welcome, empowered and safe,” like President Capilouto states we are.

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