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Educate. Encourage. Sympathize. Uplift. Inspire. Care. Love.

After the decision was made last night, social media was almost unbearable. It was literally saddening to see the things that I saw on my timelines and news feeds. So I refrained from saying what I wanted to say… Until Now.

Before I begin on my thoughts about the actual decision with the Mike Brown case, I’m going to start with something much broader- “Us” as a whole. And yes, I use those quotations for a reason. We have to do better. Period. I think the biggest thing that makes me mad today is how we can do things to each other as black people, and get so upset when another race or group does it to us. Example, the word “Nigga.” And I’ll admit, I’m just as guilty as anyone else of this. We use the same term that was, and still is, meant to degrade us as a term of endearment.  Do you hear white people referring to themselves as “Crackers”? I know I don’t. This is the root of the issue.

Almost everyday, I tell Alex (the love of my life, my sugar butt, my baby, etc. etc.) to “pull his pants up” or “don’t curse so loudly” or something else that I feel will make him be seen badly by others. Because he is a “large, black man,” I know how he is looked at by people around us, especially since we go to a predominantly white institute. Anybody who knows him, knows he literally will not hurt a fly, yet I’m still barking for him not to do this and not to do that. I know who he is, but unfortunately we are very easily stereotyped, as many groups are. Many times we are not looked as individual people, but as a whole and categorized with every other black person. And we continue to further perpetuate this issue. We want to be respected, we want to be equal, we want to have our voices heard, but at the same time our voices are bellowing out harsh words, our equality is only demanded when we have been wronged, and we cannot respect ourselves any more than those who we are asking respect of.

I cannot count the number of conversations that one of my roommates and I have had about being black in a “white” world. With that being said, I’m not saying that the majority is racist or that we unfairly treated, but what I am saying is that ISSUES STILL EXIST, RACISM STILL EXISTS, AND WE CAN ALL DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT (which I’ll get to). Going to a PWI, I have been the only black girl in a classroom with only whites more times than I’m even willing to count. Personally,  I do not find it to be uncomfortable, because I know that I am capable. I know that I  can run with the best of them, actively engage in and out of the classroom, and my GPA is higher than probably all but a couple people in that room. So, no I don’t find it hard. But what I do find to be very uncomfortable is when I see those of my same color doing something that we already get criticized for, or when I hear a white person say that they believe black men to be scary and aggressive, or when a professor expects me to be the voice of all black people, or when I feel like I have no other choice but to be the voice for all black people because of ignorance in the room. That’s when I get uncomfortable, because I know we can do better, and I know that other racial groups can as well.

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”

So become the system. Sounds easy, but many don’t  think it isn’t that simple. I think it is. Instead of encouraging our children to curse and sing the latest Bobby Shmurda lyrics, give them the tools that they need to become those lawyers, judges, police officers, etc. We are capable. But, here’s why it won’t happen -we’re addicted to things that suppress us. We are addicted to “turning up” and “Nigga this and that” and “Fuck bitches, get money”  blah blah blah. Money makes the world go round, but I don’t think Dr. King’s motivation was attempting to “get the hoes.”  I’m sure Ms. Parks didn’t get paid to sit on that bus. But we just want the new J’s and Marc Jacobs watches, and for our hair to be on “fleek.”

With that being said, I’m not saying that we need to sacrifice these things (if they make you happy, to each his own), but be more than that.  Educate yourselves. Teach your children, siblings, parents, families about history. Find ways that you personally can help better society, and ultimately YOURSELF. And that’s for ALL races, not just a particular one. Try to be the best you that you can be.The root of evil is ignorance, so let’s not be ignorant. Encourage our friends to not make that one racist comment (even if they have “12 black friends” or “a Mexican cousin”). Challenge our own brains to not go directly to stereotypes that we tend to do.

Finally my feelings on the Mike Brown case…yes, absolutely this was wrong. Darren Wilson should most definitely have faced some consequence. I mean Adrian Peterson can’t continue his career for disciplining his child (another story for another day). The Mike Brown case was significantly larger than that, so for that officer to walk freely, there’s something wrong. So NOW WHAT? Let’s not be bitter, but pray without ceasing. Pray for our children to be able to live in a better place like our ancestors prayed for us to, pray that we can help others and ourselves to get rid of ignorance, pray that our children have the tools to BE the “system.”  Pray that as a whole, we do better.

Educate. Encourage. Sympathize. Uplift. Inspire. Care.  Love.

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5

J-M- I LOVE-U….But Do you Love ME?

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I’m sure we all feel the love in the air! But  I’m not so sure that’s the case in the Wonderland of JMU. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my university, but I am highly disappointed with some of the things that are going on here lately.

Recently I came across this blog linked below, and I was originally ecstatic that someone had spoken up about the elephant in the room, literally…every classroom, every dorm hall, every common place on this campus, but as I continued to read and got to the comments portion, I became slightly outraged. The blog’s focus was on how one individual of African American descent was upset that after becoming a member of James Madison University’s Student Ambassadors she felt basically used and only accepted because she was “convenient” to give a “black perspective” of JMU on campus tours, etc.

LINK: Why I Quit Student Amabassadors

http://jmuwomensstudentcaucus.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/why-i-quit-student-ambassadors-discrimination-at-jmu/

In the comments of this blog, there were people saying that she should have known what she was getting into, black people were too lazy to apply for the Student Ambassador position and therefore, unfairly represented, and other disgraceful things. I must say after reading this, I fell a little out of love with my beautiful JMU.

It doesn’t shock me to know that the majority of JMU’s population is Caucasian or white, I mean, it is a predominantly white institute. What does upset me is the push about “Diversity Here at JMU.” Anyone who goes to JMU knows that one of the key selling points and emphasis of the university is this false idea of diversity. Granted, diversity is not only race or ethnicity; I’d be quite ignorant not to acknowledge that. But, why sell diversity when so many of us are still looking to find where exactly that diversity is?! We claim that diversity also includes where you’re from, what you believe, cultural differences, etc. etc. etc. (are we just saying these things to take the focus off of color?…I digress), but honestly, that sort of diversity can be found ANYWHERE and you don’t hear about historically black colleges and universities pushing this diversity aspect.

Just last week I spoke to my sister about not really always liking to be the only black person in the room of 100, which usually leads to me being the “voice” of all black and/or minority people which is highly disheartening. I had a Communication Studies  class where one guest speaker thought that it would be perfectly fine for her to teach a communication theory using a clip from Comedy Central’s show Key and Peele joking about slavery. Needless to say, the class thought this was HILARIOUS while I and the only other black girl in the class felt uncomfortable and, honestly, disrespected. There were so many other clips or examples she could have used. But do we run the risk of speaking up and again being that “voice” for all black people that we’ve already been marginalized to? Do we speak for all blacks and tell her that that was inappropriate just because we were the only ones offended by it? I should have. Looking back on it now, the hesitant reactions like mine are the reason that these things to continue to happen.

LINK: Key and Peele Slave Auction Block

Basically, what  I am trying to say here is that there is not only a lack of diversity here, but when that “diverse group” is represented by a small amount of JMU’s population, many of us feel that we have to speak for the whole group. This is an issue! If we are going to sell diversity, then BRING IN MORE DIVERSITY! It is definitely not the fact of black and minority groups are “too lazy” to apply to be here at JMU or be a part of different groups, because that was made clear in the “Why I Quit Student Ambassadors” blog.

I’m so glad that this issue is finally being brought to light. Like I said, I absolutely love my school and everything that it has to offer.  I am simply displeased with the amount of diversity, or lack thereof, on this campus. So maybe, in the art of PR, we shouldn’t place such an emphasis on diversity, but something along the lines of academics- something that we do well. Or maybe even the fact that our dining services are #2 in the country.

The food here is more diverse than the actual population. DO BETTER, JMU!

*Disclaimer: This blog is only my opinions and thoughts. They are not affiliated with and do not represent James Madison University.