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Brockport community takes step forward unity

by The Stylus
Tue, Nov 6th 2018 10:20 pm
Acceptance is key The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the latest in a string of hate crimes that occurred across the country. These events have sparked training in emergency response systems and diversity programs in the hopes of crafting a more accepting space at The College at Brockport. 

Photo Credit: Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST
Acceptance is key The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the latest in a string of hate crimes that occurred across the country. These events have sparked training in emergency response systems and diversity programs in the hopes of crafting a more accepting space at The College at Brockport. Photo Credit: Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST

In recent years, the tension in the United States has reached its breaking point. Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, a stereotype has developed in regards to people who tend to get classified as “terrorists” or threats. In the last 17 years, the fear of those with African-American or Middle Eastern heritage has escalated. In the last two years, hate speech has become a common narrative and continued to promote irrational fear that has only increasingly divided the country.

All of this seems to have culminated in the last few months. While the beginning of 2018 saw horrific tragedies including the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As the year is drawing to a close, some of the attacks are starting to seem more racially driven than politically motivated.

The first of the major attacks began on Monday, Oct. 24 with the distribution of 15 different pipe bombs sent across the country. Delivered through the mail, the pipe bombs were sent to notable democrats, some of which included former United States President Barack Obama, former United States Vice-President Joe Biden and former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. In addition, one of the packages was addressed to CNN, the network that President Donald Trump has frequently called “fake news.”

While the investigation is ongoing and, thankfully, none of the packages exploded, naturally the divide between democrats and republicans has only grown. This sentiment is deeply influenced by the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, who seems not to care about how divisive his actions or speech is and the potential consequences that could result from it.

An anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the second event and it occurred in the same week. The gunman, Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white, male opened fire and killed 11 Jewish people. Not the first anti-Semitic crime nor the last, but it has been called the worst attack that has occured in the United States since the Nazi demonstration at the “Unite the Right” rally last year in Charlottesville, NC.

The College at Brockport is no exception, these hate crimes can, and have, happened right here on campus. Last year, a student took it upon themselves to write on a whiteboard “All n*****s must die.”  While we at The Stylus understand that the whiteboard remarks did not hold the same consequences as the previously mentioned attacks, it is evidence that hatred, like fear, is contagious.

This narrative perpetuates a climate, not only in the nation as a whole, but on our campus here at Brockport, that harbors resentment and fosters miscommunication. With the growing diversity on campus, the opportunity and possibility of hate crimes occurring increases as well. The question becomes, how will the campus set rules and regulations to prevent such crimes from occurring?

This past May, the college offered a program for all faculty and staff to go through an active shooter awareness training. According to the college’s website, Brockport welcomed “representatives from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, Brockport University Police, and College at Brockport Emergency Management will conduct the training.” The purpose of the program was to increase awareness and preparation in the event of a shooting on campus.

That was only the beginning. The campus is actively taking steps to become more inclusive and continues to promote the growing diversity of its students. At the beginning of this fall semester, Brockport’s club Men of Color promoted events such as “Brockport Night Out” in an attempt to open those channels of communication between University Police, Brockport Police and the students of The College at Brockport. As Cephas Archie, Ph.D, discussed, these events are local solutions to national problems.

However, that doesn’t work if the trust between students and police aren’t there. Students of color report that, while the college is promoting all of these diversity programs and conferences, they feel as though it is “all for show.” It is hard to partake in these events that promote mutual respect if, when the event is over, things return to normal. For example, if parties hosted by African-American students are treated differently than parties hosted by Caucasian students when the police are involved, then there remains an issue. Guards are higher when there is an interaction between an officer and a student of color and perhaps for good reason.

Nationwide, the Black Lives Matter movement is sparking controversial, yet necessary discussions about race and how society interacts in regard to it. Specifically, the discrimination of people of color when situations escalate to the usage of firearms. If the country wasn’t divided enough, the movements All Lives Matter as well as Blue Lives Matter moved throughout the nation, placing the groups even more at odds.

What, perhaps, isn’t clear, is though the movement is called Black Lives Matter, the argument is not the lives of people of color are more important than anyone else’s. The message is unnecessary and illegal murder of people of color gets covered up and isn’t in mainstream discussions, especially in the case of police brutality. The All Lives and Blue Lives Matter movements were created not with the intent to promote but the intent to demote the Black Lives Matter movement. They were created as an alternate option, as an inclusive yet divisive movement in response to those trying to raise awareness and create discussion about how a group of people is being victimized.

With 2018 drawing to a close, the count of mass shootings seems only to increase. According to Business Insider, “the number of mass shootings in the US this year has already totaled 297.” That works out to be around a mass shooting a day since January 1 .

We at The Stylus believe while the goal was to “Make America Great Again” we seem to have chosen to regress back into the sexist, racist country that was once at the brink of civil war. We believe that open communication is key and that there is a lot of work to be done, on all sides of the aisle, before any progress can be made to move forward from our bloody past and into a peaceful future.