EDITORIAL: Racist hoaxes belittle real problems at K-State, need to stop now

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A photo of racial slurs that was widely shared on Nov. 1, 2018, drew condemnation from the K-State and Manhattan community, only to be revealed to be a hoax. A more recent hoax in which a student reported but then admitted to creating and posting a racial slur on a Jardine Apartment door has drawn similar condemnation, and K-State is looking into disciplinary procedures for the student. (Twitter photo)

On Nov. 5, Brodrick Burse, sophomore in mass communications, posted a tweet just before 10 p.m. announcing that he had found a racist sign posted to his front door.

“Beware N*****s Live Here!!! Knock at your own risk,” the sign read. The incident was quickly reported to the Kansas State Police Department for investigation.

Not even two days later, the K-State Police said it was a hoax.

As reported by the Collegian, the person who originally reported the incident confessed to creating the poster and putting it up himself.

Almost a year ago to the day, a similar incident occurred when a man who had his car vandalized with racist graffiti was reported making a confession. It was all part of a prank gone wrong, he said.

The car incident was appalling to most Manhattan residents at first, and the victim’s confession sparked an outrage. The poster incident was different, though — many residents said on social media, “I bet this one’s fake, too.”

The Manhattan community has learned an unfortunate lesson: don’t worry when racism rears its ugly head, it’s just a prank gone wrong.

When racial slurs get plastered onto objects in the real world, their power is greater than most probably realize. People from minority races have to see the physical embodiment of irrational hatred and then go about their days like they aren’t reminders of what these criminals might do to them when no one is watching.

The K-State Police said the perpetrator of the poster incident would be disciplined “in accordance with university procedures.” Riley County police chose not to press charges against the man involved in the car incident last year, stating that they didn’t feel it was in the best interest of the community.

Despite this, both the Riley County Police Department and K-State Police have been very secretive about their investigations into both of these incidents. Evidence is being locked up tight and disciplinary action is being kept vague at best.

We don’t think keeping secrets about these investigations is in the best interest of the community. The exact, whole truth about the car incident and the poster incident should be known to the residents of Manhattan to set an example of what this community values.

A man should not be allowed to strike fear into the hearts of black Manhattan residents and get away with it. The exact details of how these racial slurs find a home in our city should not be unsolvable mysteries, with no photos or videos to set the record straight.

Someone tweeting a reminder to fight racism at home with the power of your vote — coincidentally, a day before midterm elections — should be punished for whatever crimes they committed. This should not keep happening.

Racism is a real evil that still exists today. It’s likely that it will always exist in some form due to the way humans perceive difference. Training the citizens of Manhattan to view racism as a prank gone wrong, not something to really worry about anymore, is absolutely unacceptable.

Racism is not a prank; it is an illness of the mind that damages the relationships, careers, families and livelihoods of real American people.

We hope the citizens of Manhattan will consider these words.

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