The normal pressures of college life — exams and term papers, part-time jobs and extracurricular commitments — can be stressful enough. At Michigan State University, Black students say they face another worry: incidents of blatant bigotry and racial intimidation.
Students arriving at their chemistry class one morning found a black doll hanging by a mock noose attached to the ceiling tiles. Another student reported to a local television station that she found the n-word written on the dry-erase board outside her dorm room door. Yet another told the station that she had heard a group of girls in the cafeteria who said, “This part of campus is becoming too Black. Where did they come from? This is making me uncomfortable. I’m going to move; they don’t belong here.” Others described acts that weren’t indirectly spoken, but whose message was loud and clear.
“I think this is a shame and I think it is just a testament to the fact that we are not beyond the issues that took place in the past," MSU student Shaina Simpson said.
According to several students, such behavior is becoming more and more common, yet officials have not responded adequately. The university says that it is investigating the incidents.
Some experts suggest that the election of a Black president has contributed to the rise of acts of racial intolerance.
“I think what’s going on in the big picture is that many, many, white Americans feel that they are somehow losing their country to people who don’t look like them. That sense has clearly been exacerbated by the appearance of Barrack Obama,” Mark Potok, director of the intelligence group at the Southern Poverty Law Center told BET.com.
According to Potok, in 2009 there were 2,284 hate crimes directed at African-Americans as reported by the FBI Hate Crime Statistics, but he says that the numbers are in actuality around 20 times higher reaching nearly 40,000 hate crimes directed toward African-Americans, nationwide.
In an effort to pressure the MSU administration to take action and take steps to combat racial intolerance, several student organizations are planning to hold a town hall meeting on Tuesday night.
To contact or share story ideas with Danielle Wright, follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV.
(Photo: Staten Island Advance /Landov)