On Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, the American people watched as President Barack Obama was re-elected. Though some rejoiced while others cursed in frustration, groups of students around the country gathered on their campuses to shout racial epithets and threats of physical violence to students of color.
At Hampden-Sydney College in Richmond, Virginia, 40 students “shouted racial slurs, threw bottles and set off fireworks outside the Minority Student Union within hours after President Barack Obama’s re-election,” says Steve Szkotak of the Huffington Post (According to Think Progress, the school’s president, who is black, sent an email to students’ parents calling the incident a “harmful, senseless episode,” but it is not clear whether he had plans for disciplinary action). At a protest at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday night, 400 people shouted racial slurs. Only two were arrested.
And in NYC, 16 year old High School student, Ricky Catanzaro, tweeted, “No n—– should lead this country!!! #Romney” followed by, “Only thing black people are good at is basketball #run #shot #steal,” says the NY Daily News.
It is not enough to set up perimeters banning racist language on campus, for while those barriers may silence the most racist of students at school, most students will return home with the same racist ideologies they hold in their mind. Instead, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the ways we are teaching students about identities. Students should have the opportunity to ask questions about communities outside of their own, and address the stereotypes that have been created by the societies they live in.