Today someone reminded me that this is the South.
Today someone further proved that racism exists.
Today someone demonstrated that safety is relative.
Today someone caused disbelief, anger, and unrest.
Today someone hung a noose on a tree near our Student Center.
I woke up this morning to a news article I simply didn’t believe. This is a horrible April Fools joke, and it’s not funny. At all.
But then I read on and realized it was real. It actually happened.
I went to class and my professor displayed sickening pictures of lynchings, pictures that showed nooses on trees.
You know something pivotal has occurred when you feel a bunch of different emotions all at once.
I feel sad. Sad that a person would do something like that.
I feel angry. Angry that someone thinks it’s okay to be racist.
I feel offended. Offended that someone would make my African American friends feel less than amazing.
I feel confused. Confused as to how someone could even think to do this, could even get away with this, could even want to do this.
I feel embarrassed. Embarrassed to say that I go to a school where this happens.
I feel ashamed. Ashamed that I haven’t made more of an effort to stand up for the African American community when I witness racism.
But in the midst of all of these emotions, one prevails: hope.
I am hopeful because of my professor stopping class to convey how hurt she was by this injustice.
I am hopeful because of my classmates writing chalk messages outside marketplace.
I am hopeful because of hundreds gathering outside the chapel.
I am hopeful because of the disgust and sadness that my fellow Duke students felt today.
When my family went through a hard time my freshman year in high school, my friends would always tell me that sometimes you have to go through hard things so that you can see the good. And sometimes it takes those hard things for people to join together.
Today we went through a hard thing. And now we’re seeing the good.
It’s not enough good. But it’s a step towards good. And it’s a step we hadn’t fully taken until today.
I’ll never forget what my academic advisor told me this morning as we tearfully discussed our frustration: “You know, what separates us from animals is our compassion. Humans are compassionate and loving.”
Whoever put that noose on that tree was acting like an animal, void of compassion and love.
But every time we sit back and watch racism flourish, every time we don’t fight for equality, we are being animalistic, too.
And I for one would like to see a lot more humans on this campus.
It shouldn’t take a horrible act for people to join together, for people to stop acting like animals.
But I remain hopeful that the keyword is ‘stop’, and that stop it will.
Maybe I’m naïve to be hopeful, but hope is the only thing to which I can cling at this moment. And if we all hope together, we can hope for change, for acceptance, for safety, and for love.
These are my words of hope. And this is the reason I blog: To remind people of the power of hope.
It’s like someone wrote in chalk tonight:
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”