Civil rights advocates lacked civility on Diag

To the Daily:

Affirmative action is one of the major hot topics concerning students in the state of Michigan due to the proposed Michigan Civil Rights Initiative that may be included on the 2006 ballot. This proposal has faced a great deal of controversy because it would eliminate race-based affirmative action. Yesterday, BAMN brought Al Sharpton to campus to give a speech protesting MCRI and supporting the use of race-based affirmative action. As a student who is concerned and interested in affirmative action, I went to the Diag at noon to see the presentation.

The Diag was full of individuals – many holding signs for BAMN and a smaller group holding signs protesting against race-based affirmative action. Because I personally don’t believe that race-based affirmative action reaches all disadvantaged individuals, I moved toward the group protesting race-based affirmative action.

I did not attend the speech in affiliation with any group, and I was not holding a sign. However, because I was in the group protesting affirmative action, I was assaulted verbally and physically. Members toting BAMN signs used obscenities against me, degraded my physical appearance, pushed me, squirted juice on me and threw juice pouches at me. One girl toting a BAMN sign cussed me out, made racial comments regarding my Asian ethnicity and proceeded to throw a packet of soy sauce at me. These individuals were calling me racist – but wouldn’t using degrading terms toward my ethnicity and throwing soy sauce at me also be considered racism?

In the history of human civilization, the laws and the large progressive Civil Rights Movement are not all that old. While I believe that the nation has made some progress toward eliminating racism, I believe that it will take many more generations to eradicate this problem. Yet I believe that using race as the basis for affirmative action emphasizes the idea that individuals are disadvantaged only for the color of their skin and, in my opinion, does not promote progress. The nation as a whole should improve lower-level schools in disadvantaged areas if we want to make education equal, not wait until an individual is applying for higher education.

On a more social level, I think the racial slurs and other angry attacks on my beliefs only show how far this country has to go. Let us approach this issue with compassionate, open minds – and maybe let’s keep the soy sauce in the kitchen.

Layne Scherer

LSA sophomore

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.