When Texas Tech’s fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon GroupMe chat was leaked recently, it revealed hate messages towards illegal immigrants, some members’ desire to have a wall be built between Mexico and the United States, and permits for Americans to hunt illegal immigrants, among other hate speech.
These acts of ignorance are nothing new.
Texas Tech is just one of many universities that have had to deal with racial incidents on its campus. When I first heard of what happened, it reminded me of several racists acts committed during my time at American University (AU). As a black woman going into her junior year of college, these racial incidents no longer scare me, they disappoint me.
In May of 2017, as I prepared to take my finals and complete my freshman year at AU, I woke up to the news that there had been another racist incident. Bananas that had “AKA Free” and “Harambe Bait” written on them were hung in nooses on different parts of AU’s campus. This occurred on the same day Taylor Dumpson took office, the first African American woman to be elected as student government president at AU.
As the incident became national news, I received calls and texts from family and friends all across the country asking if I was okay. Physically I was okay, but mentally, I was drained.
As racial incidents on college campuses continue, we are left with the question of how those responsible for these incidents should be punished. In today’s society, it seems like the norm is to just expose the culprit all over social media, and attack them for the rest of their lives to ensure they never have a future.
At first, I believed that this was the right thing to do, hurt them the same way they hurt the people they were targeting. But then I thought to myself, “how does this solve the problem of racial attacks, not just on college campuses, but across the country?”
Yes, students who commit these acts should be held responsible and expelled from school. After that, the goal should be trying to change their racist beliefs instead of continuing to go after them. Attacking them physically and verbally won’t solve the issue.
It would be better to spend our time trying to fix the issues, instead of making it more violent. People are capable of change and it’s up to us to help them transform.
Back in 2011, Oprah did a special on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that took a look back on race in America. Towards the end of the segment, they profiled Jim Rainey, a former racist who turned over a new leaf when his daughter gave birth to a biracial son. He would grow to love his grandson and became ashamed of the beliefs he held before.
Rainey transformation came full circle in 2008, when he adopted two black children into his family. If Rainey is capable of making this dramatic of a transformation, anyone is.
Transformation should be the goal, not destruction. If we fight hate with hate it ends up exploding in our face.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
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