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Let’s stop pretending it’s not racist

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="274"] Black Lives Matter Twitter[/caption] For too long the topic of racism has gone unnoticed, or better yet, has been ignored by the mass media and its audience. Maybe those in charge think the masses will stop complaining about their grievances if those issues don’t get talked about, but the people haven’t stopped complaining. Their voices are getting louder. The Black Lives Matter movement went viral on social media all over the country, becoming this generation’s new Black liberation movement. The movement was created after the death of 17 year old Treyvon Martin in 2012 and has since been the active voice against the deaths of Black men, women and children like Michael Brown, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice. The movement’s priority is for equality and safety for Black lives and has wasted no time in its attack against the Confederate battle flag, which has recently become one of the most controversial symbols in this country. Because, well, its entire history is based on White people going to war to try and keep slavery legal. Seton Hall students come from all over the country and even around the world, so it comes as no shock that the thoughts on this matter differ extremely. Some SHU students identify themselves as members of the Black Lives Matter movement and don’t want the Confederate flag to fly at southern schools. But other students believe that getting rid of the flag would distort U.S. history and erase some part of southern heritage. Heritage is important, but why would people be proud of their ancestors when they ignored the basic human rights of an entire demographic? Many college-aged students have recognized that institutional racism, which is propelled by symbols like the Confederate flag, handicaps a university community’s ability to unify itself. Instances like the recent resignation of the University of Missouri’s president , Tim Wolfe, shows that student voices are being heard. The Black student community at the University of Missouri had major issues with Wolfe’s beliefs on institutional racism and protested so vigorously that he had basically no choice but to step down. Seton Hall students have shown they are able to voice their concerns by protesting the campus appearance of the former president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández Reyna, and the Dominican Republic’s anti-Haitian policies. Though many supporters of the Confederate flag would disagree, symbols like it continue to divide communities. How are we to expect racial equality to prosper when a symbol that strikes fear into a certain group of people still flies at some educational institutions? Symbols are more powerful than you might think. We live in New Jersey, a highly populated and diversified state, yet symbols can be divisive here too. In Passaic a few years ago, a monument dedicated to Dominican Republic founder Juan Pablo Duarte was said to be a stab in the heart of the Black community. Many view Duarte’s policies as racist and this view became very clear when the monument was spray-painted white, an act that was meant as a rebuke to his anti-Black policies. These are the measures people are taking to rid racist symbols from their lives. Those against the Confederate flag have had some success with the removal from the University of Mississippi of the Mississippi state flag, which has the Confederate flag printed on it. But state officials had harsh words about the decision. Those who protest against the confederate flag just want to live without racist intimidation waving in their faces, which is quite hard to achieve when defenders of the flag don’t understand why it’s racist in the first place. Ashley Turner is a journalism major from Jamesburg, NJ. She can be reached at ashley.turner1@student.


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