After I read last week’s article in the school newspaper about racism on campus, the more I became confused and appalled about how people could say so many things about the skin tone of my fellow peers and I—something that is completely out of our control. Immediately after I finished reading the article, I began to think and the longer I began to think, I wasn’t sure if I was upset by the things that were being said or because the article wasn’t addressed yet. The next day, my mood on campus shifted. I no longer felt like I belonged on campus nor was welcomed.
“How could people carry so much hatred toward me when I’ve never even given them a reason to?” I asked myself.
The next day, an email was sent out from Caye Smith with signatures from administration acknowledging that they were aware and that they disapprove of the comments that were said. I had faith in PLNU’s administration and faculty because I know they wouldn’t stand for this, especially because they’ve taken steps to raise awareness about racism, which unfortunately resulted in ignorance from students that they can’t control. After last week’s article that addressed racism on campus was published, I went on Yik-Yak and saw this:
“Just read the entirety of the Loma Opinion section. Never face palmed and laughed harder. Keep writing [expletive] like this and I will have entertainment for the rest of the year.”I couldn’t believe some people still weren’t taking the issue serious, even when it was clear that racism was right in front of their face. I was surprised that people continued to up-vote the yak.
The next day I attended a meeting held by Black Student Union where students shared how they felt on campus. The stories were so heavy that I could never fully tell how they felt or speak on their behalf, but to hear students stories about how they didn’t feel like going to places on campus such as the Caf or even Chapel because they felt like they didn’t fit in and never would due to their skin color—something they can never change, broke my heart.
As one student in the meeting began to bawl their eyes out while sharing their reaction to the racist comments, it showed me that it was time. It was time for change. No more did I want myself or my black brothers and sisters and other minority students of color to feel marginalized, helpless, or worthless. I am certain that it’s clear as day that the comments said on Yik-Yak were awful and unacceptable by all means. And as a black man, leader, and student on campus, I was not going to continue to stay silent because silence only adds to the oppression. I’m writing this articleto remind students and whoever wrote these comments that your words have not been forgotten but are continually hurting a large number of students of all races.
Your comments about black people continue to haunt me day in and out and have made it extremely difficult for me to call PLNU my home. It has made me consciously aware that I can’t be respected or accepted like my fellow white colleagues on campus and it has nothing to do with how hard I work or act, but because I am black—something I didn’t even get to choose.
And because I am black, that despite all the adversities I’ve faced like being adopted, living in poverty, not having a relationship with my parents it doesn’t matter. Even selling my car, TV, and my bed to get to college or even taking 23 units this semester, doesn’t matter either because I am black. And no matter how hard I work or act it doesn’t matter because there will always be a negative connotation associated with the tone of my skin which is out of my control.
That is what your comments have caused and I hope you’re satisfied with the results.
Jake Henry is the executive secretary for the Associated Student Body (ASB). He is also the news editor for The Point, a career ambassador for OSV and a junior broadcast journalism major.