***I haven’t been writing recently so the events in this post are dated but the content and the points are not.***
About a month ago, an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa (my current home) sustained multiple injuries to his face. He claimed these injuries were the result of a hate crime. I was a part of the student discussions on campus surrounding the events, university action, and student feelings. You see, this is not a diverse campus. This is not a place where underrepresented persons necessarily feel safe all the time. So, to hear from the Chicago news that there was a possible hate crime near campus, was not a good feeling for students of color.
As it turns out, this individual was caught on security cameras as a member of several fights near closing time. Furthermore, the victim was seen as an instigator in these videos. The family apologized and it all dissolved away. However, there are a few things that we need to learn from this incident regardless of the outcome.
- Do not cry wolf. Seriously, I learned in kindergarten that you do not make up serious allegations because one day something serious will happen and nobody will believe you. Playing pretend has boundaries, accusing imaginary people of a federal offense is far beyond those boundaries. Especially in a nation and a time when every time I blink there’s another story in the news about somebody getting shot or police brutality, there is no room for this. We are trying to earn respect not dissolve the little that we have. This doesn’t help in the least.
- When you are a coorporation or an institution that already has a poor track record for supporting underrepresented members, you need to make a statement. When you come out and say things that sound like you’re just covering your ass nobody takes you seriously. When you make claims and do not follow through on them, people get angry. Just because this incident turned out to be nothing, that doesn’t mean that the feelings of uninvolved students should be discounted again.
- Don’t lie about something that is going to be proven wrong. I mean, don’t lie in general, obviously. However, when you’re saying you went to the hospital as a victim of assault after you were so innocently walking home at 2 AM, but the hospital didn’t report your injuries to the police as required with suspected assualt *pause* your BAC was >0.1 *pause* there are security cameras EVERYWHERE on the block you say you were on *pause*. That is all.
The fact of the matter for me is that I know I’m strong and I want to knock down doors for other people to walk through in the future. When events like this happen, particularly when someone falsely claims a serious issue, it doesn’t matter if the door is wide open or locked shut, people get scared off. That’s a problem for me. Just because we have the same skin color, that does not make us brother/sister. I’ll look out for you if you need me, but when you do something that harms your future it makes it really difficult for me to help. My attitude is that I have to work harder for every opportunity I am afforded. More importantly, I have absolutely no problem with this. When lazy and/or scared people create work for me, I have a problem. When driven people create work for me, we work together. There’s no room for crying wolf. There is only room for screaming with pride.