Last Friday, July 15, Exonians were encouraged to wear black in order to raise awareness about police brutality. The event however was marred by some hurt feelings and complaints of racial insensitivity. Students such as Tatyana Brown and Uniqua Jones said they expected more campus support and Uniqua was later the target of insults by a passing driver.
Tatyana, who was responsible for handing out flyers told Summer Times that one girl dropped a flyer right in front of her, while another kid “turned to his friend and was like “why would we support blacks?” Additionally, Tatyana said she got jostled a couple of times. As she explained “people pushed past me. They bumped me in the shoulder and ignored me… They were just being rude.” While she was not hurt, Tatyana was disturbed over public ignorance of the matter. “It’s saddening that some people only want to keep us as a community divided.”
Furthermore, some students took the event in a different direction, by wearing all white. Kayland Jones a sixteen-year-old Native American and member of “The Affinity Group” said that “the fact that people were wearing all white was brought up and discussed during our meetings. Many thought that the event was taken as a joke by some white people in campus.” Tatyana stated that, “the event was meant to be all inclusive, something to bring us together in a time of tragedy, but unfortunately some people responded in a very disrespectful way.”
Uniqua was part of a group of students who were later insulted with racial slurs and obscene hand gestures by a couple of individuals in a passing car. She said “A black truck slow[ed] down next to us and a white man… [yelled] “Ni****rs.” Then she said he stuck up a middle finger and sped off.
The students later reported the incident to campus security. As stated in Ms. Gosalves-Blanco’s email “Paul Gravel, Director of Campus Safety, is in communication about these events with the Exeter Police and his officers increased patrols around campus.” Students should keep alert at all times and report all happenings to the campus security.
“We can not disrespect people based on their beliefs,” said Jordan Westendorf. “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ event was meant to raise awareness in relation to the shootings that have happened in the past weeks. It is important to stand up for others and for what we believe is important.”
As Martin Luther King Jr once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”