“Our country has a long history of slavery, racism, domestic terrorism, and division. Each one has affected black Americans for many generations emotionally, physically, and psychologically. What most people are afraid to face is that these acts and perspectives are still alive and well today. It is so prominent that it is ingrained in our entire system, from the spaces we live in, how we find education, work and in the ways we see the world around us.
We are constantly divided by race, gender, creed and sexuality while being pinned against each other through ideals of purity and hierarchy. Throughout history, the Ku Klux Klan has continued to emphasize this divide and stood for White supremacy. Coming to me, a black woman in America, these hateful actions hit close to home. I can still remember vividly stories that my grandmother told me about the first time she saw a cross burning in our backyard; somewhere I had played with my family in my younger years. I can still feel that same feeling, hopelessness.
For the students of Niagara University, I challenge you to question the direction our society is going in, but also question your unconscious bias. Race relations are political; it is cultural and these relations are what make us who we are. If we continue to deny ourselves this conversation, social discourse will cease to exist. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. We cannot continue to shy away from the historical truths of our country. So, we must ask ourselves, is my pride, fear, “politeness,” or willful ignorance getting in the way of progression?”
If we continue to deny ourselves this conversation, social discourse will cease to exist. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.