There are few moments in today’s society that truly teach us how there is a difference between the races. I grew up in Germany and remember my white mom telling me, "I don’t really get the race issues in America. I mean is not slavery and real racism over?"
Sometimes as black people, we shelter ourselves into believing if we enclose ourselves and stay out of the light, we will not be subjected to racism.
Then one day, you drive down the highway in the middle of Alabama, and you see multiple trucks, each with seven flags symbolizing white supremacy and the South’s secession. Imagine being afraid to speed up or slow down in fear that they would follow you if you changed speeds.
I always told myself "Nope, flags don’t scare me," until they did.
I remember growing up disliking Ole Miss. You know, the typical in-state rivalry. My dad played for Mississippi State University, so I knew which team to support.
I remember having black friends, teachers, etc., who declared Ole Miss was the better school. I remember walking in the halls of my high school in Georgia proudly wearing Maroon and White, and a teacher yelling down the hall and asking why I did not want to attend Ole Miss.
I remember telling one of my mentors I would be attending MSU and for a month straight she expressed sincere concern with my decision to attend a college in a notoriously close-minded state.
Maybe you think the reason I never considered Ole Miss as an option in any way was because of family ties. However, there is always more to the story of someone who has so much affinity for history. I have always been a documentary-lover, and I will never forget the moment I saw an SEC documentary on early black athletes in the conference.
Stories of Ole Miss having KKK rallies right down Main Street while black students were huddled, scared for their lives and expected to perform to the greatest extent of their athletic ability, were reported by Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post.
This was the final straw for me and that school. There is no change in mascot or any other symbol that can fix that image.
Sometimes others do not get it. Being black is often like having PTSD. We experience the lessons passed down by our ancestors, families and mentors in real life, and become accustomed to what is happening around us. Sometimes we try to believe those ideas are history.
Yet, here we are in present day watching Ole Miss falter to keep the mirage of a world without racism. In a country where, according to Emily Badger of The New York Times, white families hold 90 percent of the wealth, and where racialized medical practices still run rampant, it is not surprising that a university did not see it fit to stop a racist march, but it is horrific nonetheless.
Some protests do not make sense, but when you are bringing in money to an entity to which you are beholden to by its laws, overseers and coaches, while not receiving pay, that sounds a little bit too much like slavery to not decide we should stop a pro-confederate rally happening in our town square.
So, here I sit as a black person, in a country I want to believe in, in a state I have chosen to attend school, hoping change is going to come. Ultimately, injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.