Ya’ll Means All: Use your knowledge to combat racism

In the week of February 6, 2017, a set of racially charged fliers appeared on the Summerville campus. They were subtle yet direct messages to non-white students at Augusta University. In addition to Summerville being affected, Augusta Tech and other universities also dealt with similar fliers.

These fliers remind us that no matter how great our university is we can still be brought down by racism or ignorance. This incident is the second time that occurred at our university between November 2016 and February 2017. However, there seemed to be a slightly different agenda this time.

February is nationally known as Black History Month. Considering the month is supposed to be the time where black people are celebrated for their achievements, it was a significant blow. With racial tensions still rising in the United States, the fliers were more likely aimed at those in the same vein as the Black Lives Matter movement.

The fliers were even placed into more obscure places, such as the Amphitheatre, the Jaguar Student Activities Center, and Washington Hall, so that they would not be torn down faster.

For the first incident in November 2016, Chief Diversity Officer Quincy Byrdsong responded publicly on the incident first time by email via social media. The fliers were discovered several days following the presidential election of Donald Trump, where there was an increase of reported hate crimes in numerous communities across the nation.

For the second incident in February 2017, Augusta University President Brooks Keel responded publicly on the incident for the first time by social media. AU/EGSC students expressed their concerns to other students and university officials via social media.

A week later after the second incident, student organizations such as Black and Blooming, Lambda Alliance, Black Student Union, Indian Cultural Exchange and African American Male Initiative used Homecoming Week as the opportunity to counteract the fliers by making peaceful acts on campus.

Students gathered together at the AU Teardrop on Feb. 13 to create chalk messages on fighting racism, white privilege or ignorance to racism. Three days later, more students gathered for Augusta Unite around noon on the Summerville campus in which was a peaceful walk for unity.

In speaking with Kimberly Gresham, president of Black and Blooming, she discussed that it was important to “put a face to our feeling” when minorities can band together against the face of prejudice, provide people with an image of strength, and let people know that ignorance will not be tolerated.

We are grateful that students have expressed their concerns publicly on the incident. We are grateful that both President Keel and Chief Diversity Officer Byrdsong responded publicly after the two incidents that occurred. We are also grateful that the AU Public Safety is involved with investigating the case.

The first step into becoming well informed is having the desire to learn and change.

However, we know that we can do more.

There are many chances to attend either speeches or events that can teach us more about how to combat ignorance. Countless events have been done on campus that have taught us more on how racism works and the sources of it. For example, former third-grade school teacher, educator, activist and feminist Jane Elliott visited Augusta University and Paine College in celebration of MLK Day.

At AU, Elliott gave talks on the “Anatomy of Prejudice” and on the viewing of the documentary “The Angry Eye,” which gave ample information on the effects of racism.

The university even offers multicultural psychology classes, which teach us the science behind racism and ignorance. Rather than viewing these opportunities as requirements or extra credit, they should be used as ways to improve our understanding of others from different races.

The reason that our university hosts such events and classes is to encourage practical uses in daily life. Although the direct experience of racism is thankfully not a reality for all AU/EGSC students, it is very much a real issue in the United States. A scholar uses their knowledge to impact their community, so it is imperative to utilize and take advantage of educational opportunities that AU presents in helping others.

The first step into becoming well informed is having the desire to learn and change.

Whether you are a student, a university official or just a human being, you can fight racism with knowledge and action. You do not have to experience racism or any form of discrimination to combat against it. Don’t be a bystander.

As Jane Elliott said in her speech at the “Anatomy of Prejudice” presentation on Jan. 13, “You can’t fix stupid. (But) you can fix ignorance.” Come together as a family, Jaguars.

Editorial Staff: Sequoia Sinclar, Skyler Mitchell and Jamie Sapp

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