With Americans still reeling from the results of last week’s election, the TKS staff thought it worth pausing to consider not what could happen, but what is happening in small-town America.
When the announcement was made that Barack Obama would be taking his place as our next President, Knox students partied in the streets and went to classes (or didn’t) the next day with bleary eyes and tired smiles. Obama said that electing him was our chance to make a difference, not inherently the change we were looking for, but he didn’t touch on the fact that his election was exactly what some Americans were not looking for.
Local news stations have been covering incidents of racially-motivated reactions to Obama’s election, ranging from flags hung upside down, to burnt crosses and dangling nooses, to actual threats on the life of the President-elect.
Yesterday the Associated Press published a report which stated, “Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son’s car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama.”
Yesterday the NAACP demanded that North Carolina State University expel four students for spray painting racist messaged about Obama. Two of them said “Let’s shoot that [expletive] in the head” and “Hang Obama by a noose.”
At Baylor young men and women awoke on Election Day to find a noose tied to a tree outside their student Union. Obama supporters shouting ‘Obama’ got into a shouting match with a group of white men who made threatening racist remarks.
These are only a few of the most recently reported incidents, and many more are occuring in towns from coast to coast.
Xavier Romano recently returned from his meeting this term with the Deans of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). Among the many issues they discussed was the fear of growing racism that electing Obama could bring out. At this past week’s SLC meeting in Borzello Hall, Romano expressed his shock at finding how many of his colleagues were very seriously concerned that racist feelings toward our newest President-elect would spill over into the college and cause racial tensions to rise on campus.
“I honestly think that many of the colleges weren’t ready for the conversation about race that, through one way or another, we’ve already had at Knox,” Romano told the Student Life Committee in his report.
How fortunate we are at Knox to have such an air of tolerance. The past year has been a rollercoaster for the issue of race on campus, but we are largely ready to accept the reality of the more tolerant direction in which our society seems to be headed.
While we hope that race wasn’t a factor in how students voted, national polls indicate that it isn’t realistic to assume that race didn’t play a role at all. Still, the student body is moving forward together. Though we certainly wish the whole world was as tolerant as Knox College, it’s good to see us and the rest of the world progressing.