Attending A PWI: Civil Unrest Edition

People always talk about how big the transition is from high school to college. Now, imagine that transition but from a school district that is about four percent white to a university that is nearly sixty percent white. Five percent of Binghamton University students and three percent of faculty members are Black. The privilege of representation in my university community is something I will never know. 

This transition was even harder being a student-athlete. Every Monday after practice, I would have to choose between eating proper dinner or going to the weekly African Student Organization meeting. For the sake of my mental health, I usually went to my ASO meeting because the TWO Black girls on my team weren’t enough to keep me sane. ASO is a place for me to be surrounded by familiar faces. A place for me to be surrounded by people with similar upbringings, similar values, and similar experiences. A safe space.

It was already uncomfortable attending a PWI and now that racial tensions have heightened across the country, people have shown their true colours. It has been disappointing to see how many people have refused to advocate for Black lives. It has been especially distressing because their refusal to condemn racial injustice insinuates that they don’t care about Black lives. My life. My friends’ lives. My parents’ lives. Their peers’ lives.

I have been calling for white people to recognize their privilege and speak up and after 27 days, they have failed to do so––even after reading my countless posts. The most disrespectful thing to do right now is to stay quiet. This is not a matter of politics, lives are on the line. These people have Black teammates, “friends”, peers, and consume Black culture. For them to keep quiet is a slap in the face, to say the least, and they have made the university campus even more uncomfortable to be amongst the five percent. 

Some have attempted, and have failed miserably, to denounce racism. Many of them seem to think posting a black square and making the caption “#blackouttuesday🖤 is enough activism for the year. Disappointing, but not surprising. We don’t need any performative action. 

They have had an extensive amount of time and resources to educate themselves so, as I see it, there is no excuse to stay silent during a time like this. They should not be comfortable staying silent because their Black peers question if they’ll make it home alive whenever they leave their homes. They should not be comfortable staying silent because Black children are being shot and killed because of their skin. They should not be comfortable staying silent because Black people are being shot and killed in their own homes while they’re asleep. They should not be comfortable staying silent because Black people have made up forty-three percent of police fatalities, despite being thirteen percent of the United States population, since 2015. 

Yet, they seem to be doing just fine. Concerningly comfortable. 

There is no tranquility in the Black community right now. It is time for America to uphold the standard of “liberty and justice for all” and if you are not in this fight, you are against it. So, enjoy the beach. Enjoy hanging out with your friends. Enjoy your town’s nightlife. Enjoy your summer vacation. But know that your silence and performative activism is at the expense of lives. 

Dismantle the system or collapse with it.