A few weeks ago my middle school class made a large banner in response to an incident that had happened at the local high school, that said: “We Are One.” My computer science teacher let me skip class to work on the sign. A week later, I noticed our banner was hanging from the balcony over the library so that everyone who walked by could see it. But, later that day at lunch I noticed that the sign had been torn down. The edges of the banner were still intact, but the mid-section was missing. Someone had either intentionally or unintentionally ripped it down. In my advisory class, my teacher discussed with us what we should do about it.
I had heard about the incident at the high school a couple of weeks before when I was walking home from school with my friends. Apparently my sister’s basketball coach (who was a high-school junior) and a couple of his friends were suspended. I didn’t know exactly what had happened but I soon forgot about it. A couple days later, my mom told me that there were about seven juniors who had been suspended for a racist Instagram post containing a picture of some African American girls with photoshopped nooses around their necks. I realized that we had been talking about this in my advisory but I just hadn’t been paying close enough attention to follow the conversation. I was surprised that someone would actually do that, and I realized that it was important that we do something to counter this act of racism. Standing by and doing nothing when you can be doing something is unacceptable.
We took this Instagram post so seriously because we interpreted the images as a threat. According to a study entitled “The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States,1880-1950”, “In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the lynching of Black people in the Southern and border states became an institutionalized method used by whites to terrorize Blacks and maintain white supremacy. In the South, during the period 1880 to 1940, there was deep-seated and all-pervading hatred and fear of the Negro which led white mobs to turn to “lynch law” as a means of social control.” This Instagram post may have been a sign that some people want America to become what it was around 100 years ago. It could mean that white students want to assert their supremacy at our school. The hatred and threats may be an attempt to try to terrorize blacks, or just a really bad joke, but either way, the post was just plain wrong.
These days people are being more open about racism because of the election of Donald Trump. Since the election, reports of hateful incidents are appearing everywhere, “in schools, in places of business like Walmart, on the street," SPLC President Richard Cohen said. I don’t remember as much racism when I was a kid as there is today. There may have been people thinking racist thoughts, but it seemed like they kept that stuff in their heads. However, since President Trump was elected, more signs of racism have been publicly displayed. Some of the biggest targets of today's racism are Muslims. CNN reported that there was a letter sent to a mosque saying hateful comments about Muslims.
"There's a new sherriff [sic] in town -- President Donald Trump," reads the letter, which is addressed to "the Children of Satan.” “He is going to cleanse America and make it shine again," it continues. "And, he's going to start with you muslims [sic]. He's going to do to you muslims [sic] what Hitler did to the jews [sic]. You muslims [sic] would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge."
In this letter, the author uses Trump's name as if it were a threat. When people use his name this way they are revealing Trump’s worst traits, and showing that his purposefully racist comments and jokes are things that they acknowledge and respect.
Being a person of Chinese and Korean descent, racism is a sensitive issue for me. I take personal offence to this joke because it was mainly made by white people who don’t understand how it feels to be targeted because of your race. When people make a racist joke against people of color, it creates an atmosphere of hatred and in a high school, that atmosphere can create tension and even violence. Next year I start my freshman year and this issue of racism isn’t going to go away. I think that it will only get worse because, in America today, people are expressing it more often. The way people of color are being treated differently is horrible. We must fight against white supremacy, the president’s awful racist comments or the way that Black and Muslim people are being treated differently.
After our “We Are One” poster was torn down, no one actually did anything about it. Mostly everyone forgot about it because we had this big project called the “I-Search” that took up a huge amount of time. In the future, just letting things like this slide won’t be an option.