Stop placing the blame

Marchae Grair

Shut up and listen.

These words continuously ran through my head as I sat at Theodore Roosevelt High School two nights ago.

Parents, teachers, students and community members met in the auditorium to discuss a crime that is bringing race issues in the school and Kent community to a forefront.

A week ago, two to three suspects vandalized TRHS by spray painting obscenities and racial slurs on walls. The slurs were directed at black people, and a Confederate flag was painted near the insults.

Students arrived at school that morning to see teachers and fellow classmates scrubbing hateful words off the walls. Administrators and counselors are trying to comfort students in the state of crisis. Black students do not feel safe attending a school where a potential classmate could commit such a crime. White students fear the act of vandalism will imply racism of all non-blacks at the high school.

Many Kent residents are shocked at the incident because TRHS is considered one of the most liberal and open-minded schools in the county.

Anyone with a concern related to the vandalism issue was welcome to attend the forum I attended on Tuesday night.

Sadly, hate crimes must not register as a top priority on the Kent community’s agenda. A dismal population of a relatively mixed crowd attended the meeting. The auditorium was mostly empty and noticeably absent of any Kent city officials or representatives of the police department.

I credit the lack of attendance to the ignorance of those who believe race will never be an issue, no matter what proof they receive. Whether one is black or white, he or she should care about a person’s right to be educated without feeling intimidated.

Even more to my dismay was the nature of the forum conducted about the vandalism.

Bluntly put, it was pointless. During a nearly three-hour meeting, nothing was accomplished to resolve race issues in the community or school.

The meeting was like a microcosm of society. Many people wanted to express their sides of the story, but few wanted to listen.

The real purpose of the meeting was forgotten.

People began to debate whether a student journalist had a right to write an article about how being around black people made him feel. As the journalist’s mother tried to defend him, people actually walked out of the auditorium, and one teacher jumped up and interrupted her to thunderous applause.

It was like the vandal won a second victory. Instead of using this incident to learn about different points of view, people let it divide them further. This will always happen if no one learns to accept some blame for racism.

There are too many problems concerning race to discuss in my column. Why aren’t there more minority faculty to help at a diverse school when such disasters arise? Why doesn’t the community care about this assault on freedom? Why is it all right for a black student to say he feels intimidated by whites if a white student cannot say he feels intimidated by blacks? Would people have cared more if white students felt threatened?

No one can answer these questions alone. Everyone needs to work together to fight racism.

The fight can only begin when we shut up and start listening to one another.

Marchae Grair is a freshman broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].