Michigan in Color recently sat down to speak with Tyrice Grice Jr. — a resident of the Michigan Community Scholars Program and one of the students who was targeted in the act of vandalism and racism that happened this past Sunday. Through our dialogue with Tyrice, Michigan in Color was able to learn more about his own thoughts, reactions and opinions to the appalling display of hate in West Quadrangle Residence Hall.
What were your initial thoughts and reactions to seeing the name tag?
“Initially, I was completely surprised by what went down. No one expects to wake up to an attack on their identity — let alone finding one literally posted on their door. While I went through the day feeling fine, as the day wore on, my anger and anxiety began to peak. Eventually, this anger resulted in an impassioned speech to my learning community — Michigan Community Scholars Program — where it was met with positive feedback. This convinced me that the community cared and could empathize with me.”
How have you been processing these events?
“On top of my heavy workload as an engineer, I have to deal with this additional heavy emotional weight. Some people may consider the vandalization in West Quad to be a joke, but this is the experience we live every day. Latinx are seen to be a part of drugs, Arabs are seen as terrorist — this is not an attack on Black Americans, this is an attack on people of color and the minority race as a whole.”
Do you think this is an isolated incident?
“This issue is an ongoing issue. Minorities, not just Africans Americans, face this. For example, downtown Ann Arbor was vandalized yesterday with the saying “Free Dylann Roof” and “Fuck N——.” As an African American from Detroit, I have experienced a lot first hand, but direct racism is new and I shouldn’t have my first experience of direct racism be at this prestigious university.”
How do you feel about the way that the situation has been handled on campus?
“Although I spoke in front of the 200-plus members of MCSP and LSA Dean Martin, that is not enough. Despite him saying he will do everything in his power to address the issue, more must be done. My dialogue on this issue isn’t enough, other students also must work to build awareness on the issue. They must think about ways that they can help create a solution, and learn how to stand up for marginalized voices. That begins with not making assumptions about people of color about their own experiences. As a group that represents only 4 percent of the student body, we need white students to also speak up on our behalf. Only when assumptions are dropped and people defend one another can we begin the work of creating a more inclusive and diverse campus.”
Michigan in Color would like to thank Tyrice for taking the time to explain his thoughts and response to his run-in with blatant racism on campus. Michigan in Color recognizes the tremendous emotional toll that this event took on Tyrice, the two other students affected, MCSP and the larger Black community on campus. Michigan in Color would also like to stress that when events like these happen, people of color are not — and should not — be expected to respond in an identical fashion as Tyrice. Because we all process events differently, it’s important to remember that one reaction to hate is no more or less valid than any other. As a campus community, all we can do is listen to these reactions and provide a space where we can support, empathize with and understand their experiences.