A Mile In Our Shoes

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Two young women stand with signs, one saying
Photo by Kendrick Trujillo

It is evident that there’s a lot of concern for the African American community at UNC. This was triggered by a hate speech slur anonymously written in chalk in front of McKee Hall.

As a Black reporter, I have to admit I was shocked. For a story like this, I think it will be nearly impossible for me to be objective. With that being said, the Black Lives Matter movement will always continue to fight for the betterment of Black people.    

 As an individual, I am lucky because I have rarely experienced racism in my life. The only reason for that is because I choose to ignore the evil I saw in the world. Just because I ignore the problem doesn’t mean racism isn’t out there. This doesn’t only apply to Black people. Some people go their whole lives without acknowledging this fact. I haven’t always been the best member of the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, over the years, it gets harder and harder to ignore this kind of oppression. Now the time has come for me, as a reporter to speak up for my family.

Coming to UNC I knew that the university was mostly dominated by white people. I did have my concerns. However, I had to believe that I was going to be taken care of. I had no other choice. I had to believe that people would choose compassion over hatred. If I didn’t believe this to be true, I would walk In fear every day.

Some people insist on doubting this fear, but they never walked a mile in our shoes. I think it breaks my heart to think back to when my mom told me because of my skin color, people might treat me differently. No child should have to go through that.

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Witnessing the slur after walking back from the class was a punch to my gut. It was also the wake-up call that I needed. I never thought I would see that kind of profanity so out in the open.    

Another quote stood out to me that day well. 

“Black fatherlessness is the problem with the Black community,” they said. 

I scoffed at this remark. This stereotype does come from a little bit of truth. The rate of absent fathers keeps growing in our community, but why? It could be for a multitude of reasons. There is one thing I do know for sure. I think this mystery person is underestimating Black mothers. I also had to teach myself how to be a man without my father. If it wasn’t for my mother I wouldn’t be who I am today. A 22-year-old Black man who is going to be a first-generation graduate in December.  

A lot of thoughts came rushing through my head. I immediately start thinking about the kind of person that can write this kind of hate so proudly. I started to get a little scared for my community. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of these words turning into action. People who think like this can be unpredictable. 

How would someone need to be raised to adopt this kind of thinking? It’s these kinds of bad apples that slip into positions of power without anyone noticing.   

What happens if you give someone like that a gun? Some argue that these police brutality victims deserve it because they are criminals. Once again, this does not only happen to Black people but many people of color. 

Let’s peel back these layers and explore a hypothetical scenario that happens to our community every day: 

What makes a criminal commit these crimes? This is where some people stop peeling back these layers. 

Some people could sell drugs to pay their rent or feed their children. These decisions spark violence between competitive dealers. Then this means this hypothetical individual has no choice but to find a way to protect themselves. Fortunately for them, it’s easy to obtain most kinds of weapons.  

Naturally, anybody would try to escape a low-income area like this. The lack of good-paying jobs in these areas prevents that from happening. To keep people of color from progressing another layer is introduced. Gentrification is how America keeps people of color poor. Thus this cycle continues. The word “cycle” is the sugarcoated word for the system. To break the system, people of color have to go above and beyond to escape. Everybody’s situation is different but this is a common scenario. There needs to be a revaluation of how society functions. 

Writing a racial slur in chalk is not a challenge to Black rights, but to human rights.      

We are all humans, and we all bleed the same color. However, when Black blood is shed we refuse to sit in silence. We organize and protest just like our ancestors successfully did. Despite those grand accomplishments, there is still room for improvement. 

It can take one incident to spark a system of hatred. It can take one conversation to change the world

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