Opinion: Don’t let a slur slide

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton is a sophomore news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

One thing I was looking forward to doing this February was seeing David Pilgrim, the founder of the Jim Crow Museum in Michigan who came to visit Kent State this week. Pilgrim‘s presentation covered the topic of racial images and undertones that shaped Americans’ racial views in society. There were many things I learned from that presentation, but the most important thing I want to pass on to my readers is the topic of staying quiet about racism, racial profiling and stereotypes.

Kent State gathers students from around the country and the world, some with different norms and values that collide with our own. Like me, you’ve probably witnessed one of your friends or acquaintances say offensive remarks about a race or group of students. I have been in a position where people have openly said the N-word and specified they were not talking about me but rather the ignorant, stereotypical African-Americans that lived in “ghettos.”

When I had asked Pilgrim for advice about that matter, he told me that it is unacceptable to use such language, even for a specific group of people, because the word “nigger” is one way to evoke decades of slavery and racial persecution and inhumanity, no matter how it is directed. The same goes for “nigga” as a term of endearment; it’s not an endearing term at all, regardless of if it ends with an “a” instead of an “er.”

This topic also transcends beyond African-Americans, and can be for any racial or cultural group. I have heard many people talk about our Chinese and East Asian exchange students in terrible ways: that they stay in tight groups and always bring their family on the weekends and talk in their native language that annoys them and that they’re “weird” and “creepy.” I am friends with several foreign exchange students and find them to be respectable and pleasant to be around as much as anyone else, all while they’re still learning to speak English fluently and adapt to being on the other side of the world.

If you see or hear students talking negatively about the race, culture or sexuality of an individual, you need to say something and let them know that’s not how we operate at Kent State. If you go home to a racist family member spouting racial slurs, tell them not to say those things around you.

Some of you may be hesitant, but allow me to leave you with some food for thought. Racism has taken refuge, but it’s not dead. Racism is persecuted in the public mainstream, but it’s still nurtured through huddled whispers, muttered behind closed doors and raised in households so that the seeds of racism may grow in the dark recesses of children’s minds to someday be passed on to a new generation.

If you ever hear this form of racism and racial profiling, fight. People may not thank you for what you did, and you may lose bonds with friends or family, but you will know you did the right thing in stopping this new breed of racism and racial objectification from spreading.