On the night of September 16, a still unknown perpetrator spray painted the “n-word” on the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University. During the subsequent informational town hall, unnamed individuals attempted to sabotage the evening by interrupting speakers, interjecting racial slurs, and posting provocative and deceptive texts, once again hiding in the shadows.
The anonymous desecration and interruptions make me wonder about the values of racists. Why do they feel as though they must viciously sustain fallacious racial hierarchies in order to feel whole, literally attacking our humanity to bolster their own? Why are they so unwilling to positively engage to make a more beloved, understanding community? And why is it so hard to see the impact of historical erasures by primarily White forbearers?
Remember, White folks created their own group, dictated who could be assimilated into that group, and proceeded unfettered for hundreds of years to pass laws, policies, and practices that secured their place at the top of that self-created racial hierarchy, not only through policy but also the spectrum of violence. And when we protest these ongoing challenges? As James Baldwin said in 1969, “If any white man in the world says give me liberty or give me death, the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing – word for word – he is judged a criminal and treated like one…”
The Center for Black Studies is a space with an open invitation to learn, fellowship, and collaborate. To make it plain, we welcome all members of the community, and we -- including our accomplices and allies -- will not be deterred in the struggle toward justice for all. Those are our values.
I am Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective. And RIP RBG, mos def.