Sagging pants, excessive noise, rudeness and profanity are matters of concern on Henderson State University’s campus. Otherwise, HSU officials wouldn’t have posted the sign barring those behaviors.
HSU officials recognized the signs were confrontational, personal, and divisive. Similar to blacks only, whites only Jim Crow segregation signs.
Activist students opposed to the sign were endowed with an empowering lesson after HSU removed it. HSU acknowledged their protest with an apology, the signs’ removal, and regret that students felt “targeted.”
That doesn’t mean that sagging pants, rudeness, profanity, excessive loudness aren’t HSU concerns.
The crowd of African American students on HSU’s sidewalks and student unions busily engaged with talk and laughter in urban vernacular consider their hub a way to bond after sitting in PWU (predominantly white university) classes.
Others will see the large hub as loud, obnoxious, profane black people unworthy of college degrees and unworthy of being on campus. They’ll curse those students under their breaths to the ancestors above for having to say “Excuse me” in order to get by.
In the history of American blacks, no one has cared for black males the way that black men do. It’s no accident that former Senator Tracy Steele, an African American, successfully sponsored the no sagging law in Arkansas public schools. Steele, like other high profile AA males in the state had a vested interest in the positive representation of black men in academia. It simply makes one’s day job easier.
Educators should fully appreciate the unraveling at Henderson’s campus one week before fall classes. It demonstrates a clear need for educators to get lucid about race conflict in academic spaces.
The racial climate of summer 2015 produced a tidal wave of young student activists. Many student activists in Arkansas are, for the first time, understanding the responsibility they have as young people to fearlessly declare black lives equal to the lives of others. (It’s not like African American studies classes are readily available and encouraged at most Arkansas universities.)
HSU officials say they weren’t targeting a particular cultural group with the sign. That’s probably untrue. They may not have meant to hurt folks’ feelings, but nebulously and innocently, they likely had black boys in mind.
Certainly accountability lessons are greater with HSU officials than students. They started the drama. But educators and administrators benefit tremendously because they are now privy to an HSU student body of sprouted civil rights seeds planted back in 2012, post-Trayvon Martin.
If educators are not very real in matters of race, students should aggressively challenge cultural heritage maintenance ideologies that lead to the unequal distribution of justice and reconciliation in the United States.
This summer is the first time many young African American students have come to realize the vast worthlessness of black American lives under Constitutional law–as evidenced by this bloody summer from the Charleston 9 to Christian Taylor. This summer is the first time many white students have been called to see the very same inequality as well.
HSU activist students have the chance to prove that they are not the people HSU officials and the rest of America have said they are. And it shouldn’t be a daunting task because of the numbers of people who have died during a point in their lives when they are conscientiously and socially wide awake.