Who has the time to stop and wipe Black tears because of students feeling alienated and mistreated on primarily White college campuses? Honestly, what else is to be expected considering this country still promotes and funds race hierarchies to include the University System. Of course, I mean that in a rhetorical way; however, there seems to be an earnest expectation of predominantly White institutions (PWIs) as it relates to the racial climate on campuses such as Oklahoma University and Washington State University. Recently, representatives from both universities have organized two movements, Unheard and WakeUpWSU, “to fulfill the acknowledgement of issues and adversities that underrepresented students face on their respective campuses each day,” according to Unheard’s Director of Public Relations, Kumba Sicarr. In an open letter, Sicarr goes on to say that she hopes “to have these issues recognized and influence a nationwide open dialogue.”
Now, please understand I am not anti-protest of any sort. People–more specifically Americans–have the right to protest injustices of any sort. However, I do believe Sicarr and the other executive committee members are decades, even a century, too late for this open dialogue they speak of. This is a dynamic conversation that is going on every day in the lives of Blacks across this country. Freedom goes beyond unfair bondage and fatal servitude. Freedom allows a person to identify and thrive in a way that is socially responsible and beneficial to the collective. Though in short, what I have attempted to allude to are principals unique to Afro-centric world views. The collective is an important aspect here, and it is not inseparable of how we educate ourselves. It is one major reason I find movements like Unheard and WakeUpWSU counterproductive as it relates to the collective. Why waste energy and years fighting an injustice you refuse to name? Who was it who first said to “call a spade a spade?” Ah, well, I am not sure either. I am, however, sure that as a virtual campaign to #WakeUpandHearMe has taken off, this spade, White Supremacy, never slumbers or sleeps.
I am also reminded of the words of Toni Morrison when she said:
You don’t waste your energy fighting the fever; you must only fight the disease. And the disease is not racism. It is greed and the struggle for power.
No one hashtag campaign can annihilate the pestilence that is racism in this country or anywhere in the world. Nothing can uproot its purpose to usurp and marginalize any group that threatens its power structures. For there will always be something else to privilege over another. So, then, we must only fight the disease. And in scenarios like this, unfortunately, the only cancer that wages war is the need to fight in a space that was never designed for Blacks or any minorities. Modern entrance does not trump historical intent. As a matter of fact, to use sensational examples to assign reason to why your ancestors died is anything but historical. What you will know: They didn’t fight and die for you to beg to be in spaces where you feel alienated most of the time. Furthermore, they also didn’t fight and die for you to become anyone other than who you (naturally) are just to avoid feeling that alienation.
Rest assured that my purpose is not to somehow post this as a form of advocacy for HBCUs. That topic has been beaten like a dead horse. Also, it is not my purpose in life to promote any institution other than the institution of self. My purpose is to prompt someone, anyone, to see value in who they are as an individual identifying as Black. That, above all else, is of grave importance. You are more than a hashtag. You are more than dangling from White Supremacy’s string. You are powerful when you are secure. You are powerful when you are resilient. You are powerful when you are united! And this unity does not have to come about when the comforts of erasure via White Supremacy slithers close to you and strikes. What did you expect? A snake is a snake is a snake!
The only change that needs to occur is for Blacks across this country to, yes, WAKE UP! Wake up to the reality that you can’t hashtag your way into respectability. The life you live must be purposeful and meaningful. Do not be so distracted by racism’s games. No one in their right mind believes racism’s long promoted epithets and stereotypes are true for an entire group of people. They only want you to believe so AND act accordingly. Culturally performative behavior is best silenced when you choose not to perform at all. Leave them there. Leave them right there with their willful ignorance. You have work to do! Get back to work. That’s why you enrolled in college, any college. If your heart’s desire is/was to attend a PWI, then, by all means, ATTEND. Attend fearlessly and unapologetically Black. And if you ever hear two words like, “nigger bitch,” just know they are just two words. Match those two words with two of your own. Starter pack? Match them with: “FUCK YOU” as you make your way to class or wherever your purpose requires you to be at that moment.
However, if you find yourself distracted by this likely behavior in an environment where you are the minority, then you need to find a space where you are not distracted from doing your work. College should not be one big protest after the other. Scholars protest with their intelligence and the work they subsequently produce. When that protest is distracted, no matter how organized your movement is, you have wasted both your time and money. Don’t take on an issue that has already been bought for you by your ancestors. You have been bought with a price that has secured a space for you, within you. Wake up and never forget that!