Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I was shocked to read the e-mail sent by Father Jenkins on Friday afternoon. As an African American student and person it was devastating to know that such hateful letters were sent to residence halls on campus. They tried to shirk off the remarks contained in the letters, but I couldn’t.
I thought about the letters all weekend and how they insinuated the inferiority of African Americans. You could say that this attitude, this comment belongs in the 1950s and 1960s when racial debate was at the forefront of our national agenda. The truth is that this type of destructive hate still persists in our world and gains power in the minds of individuals simply by reading these remarks.
As much as I know that African Americans are not inferior to other races, the preposterous idea rolled around in my head throughout the weekend; I realized how powerful words are because they enter your mind and become a point of reference whether or not they are true.
We as a Notre Dame community can try to believe that racism does not exist, that the letters can be discarded, that the e-mail last Friday can be deleted, but that does not begin to rectify the harsh reality of hate.
As a member of the African American community, racism is part of my history and the history of the United States. It is part of the reality of my life everyday. It is a disparaging force because not only does it manifest in the form of vicious actions, but it becomes a mentality from which people view the world.
In a couple of days Black History Month will begin. My hope is that during the month of February we as a Notre Dame community celebrate the achievements of African Americans and do not allow hate to dampen this time. The words written in those letters were powerful in the sense that they sparked an awareness of a view of African Americans.
I hope that we can regain that power in constructive conversations about understanding and dismantle the hate the continues to cloud discussions about race.