It’s been a great week to be a Michigan fan. On Sept. 14, Travis Scott posted an Instagram picture with bleached Michigan sweat shorts and Michigan Air Jordan 1s. In the following hours, every fraternity brother, international student and hype beast united in resharing this image. Almost every conversation I had in the following days referenced the image in some way. There was a palatable excitement in the air from the fact that one of the biggest stars in the world had referenced the University on his social media page. However, this buzz was unmatched when it came to the pure joy students had when the comeback of Big 10 football was announced. It represented a return to normalcy in a period of time that is anything but. On Twitter, the topic surged to the top of the “Trending” page. Excited fans flooded the site with memes, celebrating the new decision.
On the same day, I found myself in a very different headspace. An ICE whistleblower’s complaint silently trickled its way into the news. In the complaint, Dawn Wooten, a nurse at a private detention center in Georgia, came forward with allegations of hysterectomies performed on unknowing immigrant women. These women were Hispanic and primarily spoke Spanish. They were not told why they were given hysterectomies and some did not know until afterwards. Besides these abhorrent allegations, Wooten also alleged that this facility would not even administer COVID-19 tests to symptomatic individuals and nurses would frequently shred paper requests submitted from sick detainees seeking care. As I read through the complaint that was filed, I was filled with red, hot rage. How could this even happen? I thought about all of my family that immigrated here from Latin America. I thought about the lapsed visas and the transition to becoming a citizen. What if one of them had been detained? They’re trying to eradicate us. After I finished reading the complaint, I began to search rapidly online, looking for places to donate, petitions to sign, anything that could make me feel marginally less helpless. Nothing. Nada. Two sites had begun reporting on this. There was so much silence. I went on Twitter. Nothing. I went on Instagram, hoping to see some coverage on it. All I saw were the same pictures of Travis Scott reposted over and over and over.
Hispanic Heritage Month began the next day. Subsequently, most major news sites began to post articles detailing the complaint. I followed closely, reading with a morbid fascination every article I could find. But for all the coverage I found, the audience simply was not there. They were busy celebrating the return of the Big Ten. As many articles and posts and videos I found on ICE the number of posts about Big 10’s return seemed to dwarf everything else in comparison. Big 10 rose to the top and the news about ICE fell to the bottom of the trending page, before falling off entirely.
People should not feel guilty for celebrating college football’s return, but we should feel wary about how this is illustrative of our values, in some ways at least. We, as a community, have become so desensitized to bad news that we no longer pay attention. We cling on to the good news, regardless of how great it truly is. I urge you to not let this be the case. As hard as you all cheered and followed the Big 10 football vote, you should be yelling for justice for these women. Ignorance is not permissible in a time like this. It’s a great month to be Hispanic, and it’s a great day to be a Michigan fan, but it’s always a good day to fight for what’s right.