By: Mariel Rowland
November is the month when we eat candy everyday and say it’s because of Halloween. It is the month when we start wearing shades of brown to look like the turkeys we will soon devour. And, this November may be slightly more magical because of the confluence of Chanuka and Thanksgiving, some kids’ dreams of getting presents on Thanksgiving will finally come true.
Overall this month is usually a time for people to get contemplative about what they are thankful for. With all of this in mind, I find it ironic that this month I heard about so many hate crimes on college campuses.
At the start of this month Oprah Winfrey said “There are still generations of people, who were born and bread and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die”.
I asked myself if when the older generation dies, will racism and prejudice really die with them? The FBI reported in 2009 that 11.4% of hate crimes are committed at schools or colleges and looking at the hate crimes committed on college campuses just this month it looks like the answer is no.
November 8th: Details about a hate crime at Lehigh University surfaced. The multicultural dorm was egged and tagged with racial slurs.
November 8th: Details about a hate crime at the University of Michigan surfaced. An invitation was sent to “bad bitches, white girls, basketball players, thugs, and gangsters” inviting them to the “World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday”.
November 11th : Details about a hate crime at Occidental College surfaced. A swastika was drawn on a Jewish student’s white board.
November 13th: Details about a hate crime at SUNY New Paltz surfaced. Students placed a “Colored Only” sign above a water fountain and posted a sign that said “Lynch the Niggers November 10th at 7:30pm Main Lounge”
November 22nd: Details about a hate crime at San Jose State University surfaced. Three white students barricaded their black roommate in his room, hung a confederate flag, wrote the “nigger” on the white board and attached a metal bicycle lock around his neck.
Maybe the answer is that there is nothing special about this month but instead something wrong with our institutions. It is well known that higher education is dominated by whites but how often do we discuss it as a conservative institution festering with prejudice and racism? These hate crimes should not be happening anywhere, but certainly not at institutions of higher learning. College students are supposedly looking at race critically, allowing them to re-evaluate some of the prejudice and racism of the older generations. These institutions have great agency in determining what the country will look like in years to come. To me, this is a wake up call to the “university” saying you need to be more aggressive in your attempts to liberate student’s minds from something they are steeped in but may have no attachment too. This is an opportunity to break the conservative mold.