Commentary

We are not welcome…

In 2018, there are no signs that say, “Whites Only;” nonetheless, it is becoming more and more apparent that African-Americans are not welcome in public venues that civil rights activists fought hard to integrate.

Recent news reports about white persons calling police to remove a black man or woman from a coffee-house, department store, gym, university, public park or restaurant suggest that our mere presence is offensive to some.

At Yale University, Lolade Siyonbola, a Nigerian graduate student, fell asleep in her dorm’s common area after a night of studying; a white grad student, Sarah Braasch, told her that she should be not sleeping there and called police.  When they arrived, Siyonbola explained to officers that she was a student. Nonetheless, after presenting her student ID, they called it in.

Really. No crime had been committed.

In an earlier incident at Yale, Reneson Jean-Louis, black male grad student, who had been visiting Siyonbola, reported that Braasch said, “you do not belong here.”

Was she questioning his right to be in the dorm or at Yale, or both?

Actually, black and brown Americans deal with “uncomfortableness” daily in encounters with police officers, white homeowners, store clerks, or anyone else who deems us less than worthy of civil treatment.

While some incidents receive widespread attention, I venture to guess that there are countless less publicized encounters like these in cities across America.

Age is no guarantee that you won’t be targeted for verbal abuse or manhandling.

Earlier this month in Atlanta, Rose Campbell, a 65-year old black motorist with diabetes, was surrounded by several officers after a traffic stop and forcibly removed from her car, handcuffed, and arrested.

Black teens, black men, black women, black grandmothers, black persons with mental illness, even black professionals, are often considered suspect, even suspects, by whites.

Unfortunately, I don’t hear many black political leaders speaking up or speaking out.

Consequently, ordinary citizens need to take action—boycott, protest, make noise about those who abuse their authority, who injure or kill without cause, or who disrespect and demean fellow Americans.

To quote Sojourner Truth: “I will not let my life’s light be determined by the darkness around me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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