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Kent State University in Ohio (the USA) released a statement Friday after an offensive message was painted on the KSU rock. Kent State said the message was specifically hurtful towards members of the Black community. The statement said this incident redirects their focus and commitment to social justice and the lived experiences of Black people.
Kent State President Todd Diacon formed an anti-racism committee that will be tackling all forms of racism experienced by students, faculty and staff.
What’s being referred to as a message of hate has now been painted over with the words ‘Together We Change, #BLM,’ but some students say the stain of racism is difficult to wipe away.
The term ‘White Lives Matter’ was painted over the phrase, ‘Say Their Names,’ a term often used by Black Lives Matter during marches and protests to remember the victims of police brutality like George Floyd and others.
Kent State Freshman Matthew McDonald tells 19 News, ‘It’s like a mockery to their lives, to their deaths and even to their families. And whether it’s a joke or they are quote, unquote serious about what they’re saying, it’s completely wrong if you have morals and value human life.’
Jay Long is also a KSU student, ‘I find that absolutely disgusting and there’s no need for that at this University.’
The campus organization Black United Students says in a statement: ’For those of you who don’t know, White Lives Matter is not an inclusive term, nor does it signify anything other than hate and was created in retaliation to Black Lives Matter and the movement.’
Kent State sophomore Natalia Cruz says, ‘It makes me really upset. I’m multi-racial, my grandmother is Black and I have a lot of Black friends. I’ve experienced racism my whole entire life and racial trauma is something that really sticks with you.’
The President of Kent State University Todd Diacon had this to say: ’This occurrence further illuminates why Kent State remains focused on social justice and will pay particular attention to the lived experiences of members of the Black community.’
Some students expressed concern that whoever is responsible may get away with what happened unless witnesses come forward, because there appear to be no cameras near the KSU rock.
Black United Students say they will not let the issue be swept under the rug. They expect swift and necessary action by the Kent State administration.
On the backside of the KSU rock the term White Lives Matter was also written and just below it the name Cannon Hinnant, and the initials WLM with a heart. Cannon Hinnant is a 5-year-old from North Carolina who was shot and killed by his Black neighbour.
Read the full statement from Kent State University below.
Today, we became aware of a message painted on the KSU rock that was offensive and insulting to many, specifically to members of our Black community. Messages that are intended to be upsetting and hurtful are unconstructive and do not reflect our core values as a university. This occurrence further illuminates why Kent State remains focused on social justice and will, in the coming year, pay particular attention to the lived experiences of members of our Black community. Recognizing that all forms of racism are connected and that anti-Blackness is the entrance point to examine the ways in which all systems of oppression are enacted, President Todd Diacon has formed an anti-racism committee whose work will begin with a focus on anti-Black racism. Future initiatives of the task force will explore other forms of racism. The committee will report on the challenges and barriers that students, faculty and staff have faced at the university, paying particular attention to anti-Black racism that has impeded the success of Black students, faculty and staff. ~ Kent State University. Source and Video.
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