The Argus f*cked up. The Argus isn’t going to say the Argus f*cked up, and nobody’s going to force The Argus to say the Argus f*cked up because semantics and censorship is more important to them than the pain experienced by black students on this campus who have felt beaten down for years by a global society and culture, defined by white supremacy, that tells black individuals that they do not matter.
My ancestors came to North America in the feces and blood stained slave boats. Their bodies, thrown overboard when they died of heat, exhaustion, disease, or malnourishment outline the route from Africa to North America. My ancestors were stolen, tortured, starved, whipped, raped, harassed, and abused in every way imaginable. This nation, it’s economy, it’s reputation, it’s so-called “glory”… all of it is drenched with the blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors, and the ancestors of every black individual displaced and disenfranchised by the North Atlantic slave trade… and the funny thing is, I don’t even know my ancestors. I don’t know their place of origin. I lost a whole part of my family, heart, identity, and culture because the white men who captured them didn’t care about their names, their tribes, their stories, or their lives. They weren’t even worth enough to document. They were simply chattel. They were seen as inhuman, uncivilized primates who were worth a bit of cash.
This went on for centuries, until the abolishment of slavery, explicitly defined by the Thirteenth Amendment. In case you’re not familiar with the 13th Amendment, it states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Now, pay close attention here. They say, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
In case you’re not well versed in American History, let me remind you of a little thing called The Black Codes. It was illegal for black people to vote, assemble, read, write, testify in court, and bear arms. These were the precursor to the Jim Crow Laws, which legalized outright racism for nearly a century. It was basically criminal for black people to interact with white people or any aspect of society in a way that might indicate that they’re real, live, breathing, important citizens with agency and independence instead of second-class citizens.
I don’t know how to explain all of anti-black history in so many words, but with the lynchings, the threats, the segregation, the racial slurs, the housing discrimination, the job discrimination, the limits on education, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, climate change, the entire Bush administration, queer erasure, mass incarceration, police brutality, the list is endless to be honest… it’s abundantly evident that within itself, being black in America is a crime. It’s no wonder that we experience so much trauma, and it’s no wonder that a few hundred years down the line, black people are being shot in the streets for the most minor of provocations, or for no reason at all.
However, according to Bryan Stascavage, we’re not allowed to get angry about that. We’re supposed to sit back and expect those killing us to meditate on racism and fix it. If a cop gets killed, apparently we’re supposed to speak out like it’s a tragedy. If hundreds of black people are killed by cops over the years, adding onto the millions who’ve been killed by white supremacists across history, apparently we’re supposed to react by shutting up and sitting down, because decrying police brutality and the ongoing prevalence of anti-black racism gets us the label of a “hate group.”
The fact that our pain and our trauma is seen as hate, when we’re the ones suffering the most, is disgusting to me. The fact that the entire staff found no problem with publishing that article, but can hide behind their built-in, selectively applied clause that the article does not reflect the view of the Argus, is disgusting to me. The fact that the Argus staff invited students of color to come into their space, which was all white, to express their grievances, then didn’t pay full attention to or concede to demands to rectify the situation, is disgusting to me. The fact that the students feel so threatened that they had to go to the Ankh meeting and gather more students of color for moral support is disgusting to me.
The fact that The Ankh felt so bothered by respectability politics in relation to its own reputation that it watered down its demands, didn’t force the Argus to explicitly state that it f*cked up, and didn’t force the Argus to go through the article step by step with factual research to actually explain why Bryan Stascavage was wrong and why Black Lives Matter so that they could actually become more informed and educated members of this community, is disgusting to me.
The fact that tomorrow, the paper is going to say, “We Apologize, Black Lives Matter” as a mere statement with no meaning, with an apology for disregarding students of color and a promise to fix it in the future (mind you, the same played-out apologies and promises that we’ve heard before), is disgusting to me.
But that’s life. That’s this university. That’s this nation. That’s this world. The Argus can say Black Lives Matter and so can we, but until we truly act on it and make those who dissent accountable, I won’t believe it’s more than another headline. Simply put, the Argus f*cked up.