Racism, stupidity, bigotry, immaturity, hatred- however one chooses to describe it, last Wednesday’s noose incident should not and will not be tolerated.
Students’ Association President Daniel Paul Watkins discovered a hangman’s noose in the chair he was elected to sit in by the students of Abilene Christian University. This act of disregard and disdain for a black student holding the office established to lead the student body has ripped off the scab covering the racial wounds of this academic community.
For nearly six decades, this educational institution barred black students from attending the Christian campus, not because of any academic shortcomings, but because of the color of their skin.
The first black student was admitted to Abilene Christian College in the 1960s, and since that historic day, this community has taken steps toward reconciling the social illness of segregation and prejudice that infected every corner of our country, supposedly founded on virtues of equality and freedom.
The bravery of racial warriors like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, the “Little Rock Nine” and countless others changed our nation and this small Christian campus in Abilene.
In 1999, Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, publicly apologized for the injustice ACU took part in during the first six decades of its existence. And today, although room remains for progress on this front, more than 13 percent of the ACU student body is black.
But all this progress was hindered and challenged by the actions of one or several fools who missed this vital history lesson.
The hangman’s noose- like a burning cross, swastika and other symbols of racism-represents a legacy of hate. Initially used as a means to kill, the hangman’s noose transformed into a tool to terrorize, harass, intimidate, torment and persecute. This tool has no place on any campus, Christian or not.
This university’s students, administration, faculty, staff and alumni must not permit this act to go unpunished. We should gather together in public disapproval of this hate-filled attack on not only Watkins, but all the members of this academic community.
Although this may seem like just an attack on one individual, it is in fact an assault on everyone claiming to represent the biblical ideals that define this university. Beyond religion, our common decency must drive us to recognize any act of injustice and prejudice that takes part on our campus.
We must examine the racial relations of our community and expose anything that challenges a student’s right to equal treatment.
Rather than sweep this under a rug or forget this act once authorities uncover a culprit, we must be collectively conscious of what each one of us says and does.Â Whether it takes the form of a whispered comment, archaic joke or public attack, we must hold each other accountable and have the bravery to unearth the hidden prejudice and hate that still exists on our campus.