When I read the Elon News Network article about a black man being called the N-word by the former president of the NC Mu chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, I wasn’t surprised. And then I was angry, but still I wasn't surprised. And then I was exhausted at the fact that this was yet another reminder that I am not entirely safe on this campus. This is just one of the many examples of the prevalent racism on this campus, be it overt or not.
It doesn’t matter if there was a history between the two men or not; the N-word should never be the word turned to in order to illicit a reaction. Many students have expressed how they don’t think the general campus should be talking about this issue or how we shouldn’t let this mar our opinions of Sigma Phi Epsilon. But we should be talking about this.
As a black student on this campus, it is important for me to know this kind of information. We shouldn’t sweep it under the rug because we have some friends in the fraternity. If anything, we should be talking about it and encouraging the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon to hold each other accountable.
While what this one boy said is not an accurate representation of the fraternity, this is not an isolated incident. This case just happened to get out into the general public, just like the news of the party a few weeks ago.
To treat each of these incidents as unrelated is irresponsible and dangerous. It leads to people never hold themselves or each other accountable because they feel they are not a part of the problem that is worthy of an ENN article. But it is all of our responsibility to combat this issue.
I am hurt. Other black students are hurt. Many of us choose not to go to Interfraternity Council parties because we are afraid of things like this happening to us or have had it happen once and vowed “never again.” We don’t separate ourselves because we don’t like white people. It is because we are literally scared to go to these parties.
We are afraid that we will be turned away, that we will be called the N-word, that someone will say something outlandish and that we won’t know how to handle it. This is a constant struggle that I and other black students have on this campus. How are we supposed to feel safe on a campus that constantly reminds us that we aren’t?
To not talk about it is to ignore an entire population on this campus. The Black Student Union has many events on campus to provide a space for open conversation. Many white students have expressed that they never know when these conversations happen, but they are well advertised.
Make the effort to follow BSU on Snapchat or PhoenixConnect. Make the effort to learn something new. Be uncomfortable in a space where your opinions aren’t the majority or your race isn’t the majority. That is what we, as black students, do. Every. Single. Day. We are constantly uncomfortable.
To those who consider themselves allies or even consider themselves not racist, I encourage you to call out this behavior. Be a voice for those of us who choose to not engage because we are practicing self-care. It is an exhausting battle to constantly have to defend ourselves so please help us. We are tired.