“Misdemeanor hate”

25 Nov

First, his white roommates nicknamed him “Three-fifths,” referring to the way the government once counted blacks as just a fraction of a person. When he protested, they dubbed him “Fraction.”

Then they outfitted the four-bedroom dormitory suite they shared with a Confederate flag. They locked him in his room. They wrote the “N-word” on a dry-erase board in the living room. They fastened a bicycle lock around his neck and told him they lost the keys, then tried it again a few weeks later (http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_24566367/san-jose-state-students-charged-hate-crime?source=pkg).

This was last month at San Jose State: “he” is a black freshman whose white roommates have been charged with misdemeanor hate-crime and battery in what is being referred to as hazing.

And let me stop right there: misdemeanor hate? hazing?

Way to downsize the language. While I understand “misdemeanor” as a legal term, the notion of “misdemeanor hate” is completely beyond me. And the actions of the three white roommates (Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield; Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre) wasn’t just hazing. It was terrorizing, and not just an individual. Their hate has had felony-scale impact and repercussions far beyond the SJSU community.

While they’ve already been suspended (http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_24573840/sj-state-reacts-angrily-torment-black-student), that’s not enough. They need to be held accountable for actions that put in jeopardy the safety and well-being of entire communities: the black community of SJSU, the community of color at SJSU, and the community of all people who stand against racism.

And I need to say to all of us who condemn racism: it’s not enough for us to be shocked and appalled at the actions of these three white students. We have to push back against colorblindness, post-racialism and all the other strategies of avoidance and denial that perpetuate and allow racism to fester, instead of shifting our attitudes and actions to racial justice.

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