Connect with us

Black Lives Matter Professional Reaction

FEATURES

Black Lives Matter Professional Reaction

Featured photo by Anastasia Lawrence

Kent State made national news earlier this month when multiple racist statements were painted on the Kent State campus rock. On September 7, the rock was defaced with “Blacks have no home here” which sparked a major outcry from Kent State students on social media for the university to properly handle the issue. This was not the first time this summer that the rock was painted with racist messages. The university previously released a statement in regard to the paintings, which some students feel was not enough. The rock paintings also initiated Kent State student protests in defense of Black Lives Matter

https://twitter.com/yeahbutnaw/status/1303347237309870082

This incident is continuing to affect the Kent State community, specifically the Black community at Kent. Felix Kumah-Abiwu says that the incident was “shocking.” A Pan-African professor at Kent State, Kumah-Abiwu has his Ph.D. in political science, is originally from Ghana and has been living in the United States for 16 years. “The rock incident was shocking, not only to students but shocking to all of us. I am a professor here and of course a Black person and a minority. I am raising kids here; we want to feel at home,” he says.  

That is one issue that is affecting the Black community at Kent. For the past few months, the Kent State website was covered with “You Belong Here,” but this statement can feel contradictory for many Black students who face constant discrimination. “A young Black person growing up in America hears all these comments, sees all these things happening, the question of why comes up. We are a part of this system, but the system always treats us as though we are not a part of it,” says Kumah-Abiwu. Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, a history professor at Kent State who teaches African American history, talks about the issues that Black students have faced throughout the years on Kent’s campus. “Throughout the early sixties, there was a sense that Kent State University, probably like a lot of other universities, wasn’t really paying attention to the issues that mattered to Black students.” These issues have affected Black students at universities across the country for decades. Not having voices heard or safety prioritized has been a struggle of Black students at universities, and Kent is no exception. 

The Black United Students [BUS] at Kent tweeted their list of demands, which include increased protection and security of Black students. “Safety is key to us,” says Kumah-Abiwu. “It’s tough being Black and being in a system where your abilities and what you do is always questioned, your very being is always questioned. So that is where the frustration comes in.”

After the rock was painted with “Blacks have no home here” it was quickly covered up with “hate has no home here.” There were calls on social media that the rock should have been left with the original message, despite the pain that it caused. It was just more evidence that Black people face these kinds of prejudices no matter where they are, even if it is on a liberal college campus. “Don’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist, and just painting it over doesn’t make racism go away,” says Smith-Pryor. “It may make it look better for the moment, but the underlying intent of whoever painted the racist statement is still there.”

A way to continue this progression, according to Kumah-Abiwu, is to break down barriers. “These are real conversations, these are barriers, barriers that we need to break so everyone can come together for a collective effort.” 

Another way to combat these issues is through education. Racism in education is a major part of institutionalized racism and can affect students all over the country at different levels. “It’s going to vary professor by professor,” says Smith-Pryor. “I would just not be surprised if overall, our curriculum doesn’t effectively address racism, because it makes people uncomfortable. But education shouldn’t be comfortable anyways.” 

When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, Kumah-Abiwu says, “Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, but Black Lives Matter because of the history of the past. If people understood that this is a group of people that have struggled all their lives in America, who are fellow citizens, then their lives should matter.” 

According to Smith-Pryor, one thing to take away is: “Listen to Black students, listen to Black faculty and listen to Black staff when they tell you about things that are going on; don’t dismiss it. One thing that goes along with that is to recognize that racism has played a major role in the United States since the beginning.”

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Sara Crawford, a senior journalism student from Cleveland. I’m also the editor in chief of The Burr and the opinions editor for KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in FEATURES

Facebook

Trending

Staff Playlists

Playlists

Playlist: The End Of An Era

By December 12, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: The End of The World

By December 5, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Moments In Movies

By November 14, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Absolute Chaos

By November 7, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Spooky Scary Skeletons

By October 31, 2020

Recent Stories

Strong Opinions

On Santa Deniers: A Christmas Meditation

By December 17, 2020

FEATURES

The Plight Of Student Workers

By December 16, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Final Speakeasy Sounds

By December 15, 2020

A Stonewall State of Mind

Growing Up Gay #3: The Creative Way

By December 11, 2020

FEATURES

More Than Just A Pen And Paper

By December 9, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #5: Female Empowerment

By December 9, 2020

FEATURES

I Never Left The Stage

By December 7, 2020

Season of Justice

Season of Justice: Carla Walker

By December 7, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: The End of The World

By December 5, 2020

GUEST BLOGGERS

Ending Where I Began

By November 20, 2020

Strong Opinions

Strong Opinions: The Bar Scene in Kent

By November 19, 2020

The Art Outlet

A Day in the Life of a Musical Theatre Major

By November 18, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Speakeasy Sounds #12

By November 17, 2020

The Egg Burner

The Egg Burner: Layered Taco Dip

By November 16, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #4: Comedic Break

By November 11, 2020

FEATURES

On Video Games and Escapism

By November 10, 2020

GUEST BLOGGERS

You Are Entirely Up to You

By November 10, 2020

Season of Justice

Season of Justice: Sherri Rasmussen

By November 9, 2020

GUEST BLOGGERS

Music to my ears (finally)

By November 6, 2020

Strong Opinions

Fellini, 2020

By November 5, 2020

The Art Outlet

How You Can Help Art Survive COVID-19

By November 4, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Speakeasy Sounds #11

By November 3, 2020

The Egg Burner

Egg Burner: Chicken Casserole

By November 2, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Spooky Scary Skeletons

By October 31, 2020

A Stonewall State of Mind

Growing Up Gay: A Stonewall State of Mind Series

By October 30, 2020

Weekly Wellness

Weekly Wellness: Me vs. Hormonal Acne

By October 29, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #3: Halloween Edition

By October 28, 2020

Strong Opinions

Tolkien ‘Bout Sex

By October 22, 2020

Speakeasy Sounds

Speakeasy Sounds #10

By October 20, 2020

Playlists

Playlist: Feelin’ Good!

By October 17, 2020

A Stonewall State of Mind

The State Of Things

By October 16, 2020

Weekly Wellness

Weekly Wellness: Living with a Partner

By October 15, 2020

In the Queue

In The Queue #2: Scary Movies

By October 14, 2020
To Top