To the members of the Black Student Union, our Black community and the K-State Family:
The Black Student Union has strived to respond to the anger and frustration stemming from the decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Student leaders in BSU have participated in several demonstrations including sidewalk chalking, a remembrance vigil and a peaceful protest in the Student Union. These demonstrations have sparked racial tension on campus. As president of the BSU, I believe it is my duty to address some of these issues.
The purpose of these demonstrations is to raise awareness that police brutality, racial profiling and biases in police practices exist. It is not just about Michael Brown, but also Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tarika Wilson, Aiyana Stanley-Jones and many more. We want fellow K-Staters to realize Ferguson is not an isolated incident. Our BSU is marrying our awareness efforts with action to create change. We are currently drafting a response to recent decisions to be sent to the U.S. President, Justice Department and state representatives. We have also been working for months with the Riley County Police Department, Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice, and others to review policing policies within Manhattan.
When we began this campaign, we knew not everyone would agree with our stance. That is fine, it is an American right to form and have opinions. However, on a campus that prides itself on the concept of “family,” we were very surprised at the racist remarks, slurs and other vitriolic comments on social media sites such as Yik Yak. We are ashamed of these students who attend this campus and do not view them as family members, but as bigots. It proves that racism exists and is thriving at K-State.
If we recognize the bigots, we have to also recognize those true K-Staters who support our cause, have become allies, or at least have the decency to disagree in an intellectual and respectful manner.
For those true K-Staters, we thank you.
Finally we must address the African-American community at K-State. I know that we are outraged by the racism that has shown its face on our campus. We should be. Anger is a logical emotion expressed by those who have been denigrated and attacked.
However, I caution our community to use that anger in a positive way. We cannot be distracted from our purpose. Our purpose is for systematic change in society. We will not be able to change the racist views of those around us. Our elders have taught us this much. It was the great Martin Luther King, Jr that said “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated … the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me and I think that’s pretty important also …”
As long as we stay focused, unified and peaceful, we can achieve the goal of changing the system of laws that are in place. We are the few, the proud, the dream.
Fighting ever fighting,
President, Black Student Union