I have not to this day planned for instance where I would be dealing with racism or a hate crime. I live in Boise, Idaho where we don’t have a ton of conversation about race and diversity. But still, I am careful with the friends I choose and the experiences I choose. So other than that my defense is not a very solid one.
So last weekend when I was visiting MIT I was shocked to see on Twitter my friend N’nandii talking about a serious situation back home. The Afro Black Student Alliance worked to prepare a float for homecoming parade with 15 other student groups on Friday night. They worked to 9pm in the Brady Garage on a tribute to Black Lives Matter and a few of the men and women who have died at the hands of police. The next the golf cart floats were lined up near the start of the parade but left alone with little security. Within a few hours unknown persons attacked the float and destroyed it, popping balloons and taking away the signs.
Many things happened after this. The first, was when the club members started asking the staff about this they were repeatedly told the wind ruined their float. But other clubs and the members own recollections of how the float looked before, strongly disagreed. The staff members did not acknowledge this but were ‘all business’. Checking if the members had the key and telling them to either park it or walk in the parade as it was.
The club walked in the parade, unmarked and not happy. But they did it to prove that they would not be silenced. And they weren’t.
The day after the parade our University President put out a 1 am press release to denounce the action. And several news outlets, including the New York Daily News, put out stories about it.
Monday night, that week, the club met with a couple of top university administration to talk about the University’s official statement and call to the community for help. I was at this meeting and for one hour the club was able to talk about a host of issues. Not just the homecoming parade, but the climate on campus that might have led up to this event.
Wednesday night, the club put out our official response to the crime in a video:
Thursday night the club staged a peaceful demonstration at the BYU vs Boise State home football game.
And Friday, at our club meeting we had a special guest from the FBI come and talk to us about how they were taking part in the investigation. And yes, this crime is based on the violations of our free speech. N’nandii, our club president explained why a police report was filed in the first place by saying, we do not want anyone on the outside to this this is an acceptable action.
I hope this sparks a real positive change at my school.