On Oct. 24, I came home to see my roommates’ friends watching the football game. I introduced myself and walked to my room, just beyond the living room. I hung out in my room with the two girls while the guys were glued to the TV, drinking beer. After the game, I noticed my Barack Obama poster had been moved. Not only had the poster been relocated, but the word “NIGGER” was also scribbled across it. One of the guests had written the ignorant slur and disappeared. I angrily demanded to know who had written it, but the others in the house pleaded the Fifth.
President Barack Obama is a symbol of change and progress. But, for the narrow-minded citizens that still infest our country, his face manifests the end of their Jim Crow white supremacy. Obama, as a political champion and the first African-American president, has achieved the equality that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt about. The racist act of vandalism that happened in my house is a reminder that the racism that we have fought to end still exists.
My father grew up in the South and endured racial battles every day. As boys, my father and uncle were verbally harassed by whites. Whites called them the “N” word and gave them no respect. One time, a police officer approached my father — who was working on a Goodwill truck to put himself through college — and drunkenly put a gun to his face.
I cannot imagine how my father must have felt, but after my poster was defaced, I felt defenseless, irate and dehumanized. I am deeply offended and disgusted by this defamation. I don’t know if what this person wrote was aimed at Obama, directed at me, or both. I have experienced racism before, but to have such a repulsive act done to me in my own home caught me off guard.
I condemn not only the criminals who defaced my property, but also their friends, who sat quietly, allowed such disrespect and scurried away when confronted. What can I do to exact justice on these criminals?
I called the Ann Arbor Police. The officer collected information on a yellow notepad and then asked me how much the poster was worth. Well, sir, the poster is invaluable to me because Obama is the first black president and that means something to me and many other people. But it’s probably worth $5. Do you want to buy me a new one so when I show my future children, they do not have to see the ugly racism that still existed in 2009?
Discrimination still permeates our society, but I never thought that I would be its target. Who would have thought I would encounter such hatred in Ann Arbor? As a campus, we must combat these crimes with vigilance and fervor. I hope for justice, and I believe we can step forward as an integrated, united society if we all promote equality. I cannot love my enemies — I can only hope that they will acknowledge their wrongdoing. But I won’t sit quietly. I intend to spread this message widely.
I ask fellow students to join me in condemning hatred and bigotry. All students — black and white, gay and straight, Asians and Native Americans, Arab and Jewish — should unite to protest this stupidity. I am hoping the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other anti-racist organizations will join with me to demand that action be taken whenever such events occur. In addition, I am asking that the Ann Arbor Police find the culprit and make him or her explain these actions upon prosecution, and have faith that these actions will be punished by law.
Miles Jackson is an LSA senior.