On the bulletin board in the Campus Center there were signs that read, “Stop Demonizing My Skin Color,” and “Who Do You Think of When You Hear Gang/Theft?” At first glance, I appreciated the shocking reminder of the racist, unequal, and detached society I live in. There were many short biographies of some of the African American people in the United States who were killed in the last year. Above Tamir Rice’s photograph a poster read, “Were you also defending yourself against him?” and below his picture, the poster read, “Just Curious.”
I wondered about exactly who would identify with the “my,” and who was the “you.” Did the “yous” change depending on the sign? To me this tapped the surface of possibly internalized racism and the circumstances in which people of color are racist against other races.
I was grateful for the recognition of these lives and how their deaths greatly impacted our own perspectives, ideas, and beliefs. I think memory is extremely important and we cannot let these people fade into the background of our minds. These issues of racism and system-imposed inequality that is carried out with guns by people in uniforms and in courtrooms must be addressed, discussed, and changed.
Another sign read, “Why are we still fighting the same fight?” I appreciated how the display showed how people are outraged and nothing seems to be changing. There was another part of the bulletin board that read “White Suspect. Black Victim.” This was an effort to try show how outrageous it is to kill a black man, just because he had a run-in with the law.
A different part of the wall displayed a sign reading, “That awkward moment when white suspects get more sympathy than black victims.”
One poster especially intrigued me that read, “Black lives matter,” but the letter “B” was being covered up by a sign that said, “All.” Though I appreciate that many people have joined this cause, it is not about everyone, nor is everyone equally at risk for their lives or the lives of their friends and family.
The only poster in yellow read, “Why are we still fighting the same fight?”
Malcolm X was quoted speaking about the media and its effect on the enforcers of the law.
I think it is essential to think about the message that the display creates and whether or not the way it is perceived and interpreted is what the person or persons who assembled it intended. What responses were they trying to provoke? I was disappointed with the lack of verbal and written explanation of the poster. Though there are people who are conscious of these issues, there are still those who are ignorant. I wish this could have been a learning experience for them and explained in a way that demonstrated more explicitly the reasons why it was up there.
If I am being perfectly honest, and I realize this is somewhat of an elitist and privileged think to say, but I want my ideas, thoughts, and beliefs to be challenged and stretched more. I did not feel pushed or learn much knew from this display. I had heard, read, and marched about and for these lost lives.
I think multiculturalism is not just talking about difficult issues regarding different cultures, races, classes, and genders, but it is about challenging, complicating, and digging deeply into the ways we discuss these problems to address multiple audiences, and many people with different educational, cultural, and sociopolitical backgrounds.
I am ending with a quote:
Parents and schools should place great emphasis on the idea that it is all right to be different. Racism and all the other 'isms' grow from primitive tribalism, the instinctive hostility against those of another tribe, race, religion, nationality, class or whatever. You are a lucky child if your parents taught you to accept diversity.