The U.S. has come a long way since Martin Luther King Jr.’s death 50 years ago yesterday and the time of Jim Crow laws and segregated schools, but there are still implicit, and sometimes even explicit, differences in how people of different races are treated that should be noted.
As far as advancements go, obvious rights such as voting, desegregated buildings and anti-discrimination laws have been secured, and should be regarded with a sort of “well, duh” attitude, as everyone deserves equal opportunity to elect future leaders, get a job and drink from a water fountain. The fact that these rights haven’t always been a given and are seen as “progress” rather than something that should have been available in the first place, is abominable.
Still, after a half-century of this “progress” and the development of a national post-racist mindset, one can still find examples of racial tensions displayed on news networks as people become more vocal about unequal treatment. Racial strain still exists in the U.S. today: look at the Black Lives Matter movement, Charlottesville rallies and the Ferguson riots. While many communities will most likely never experience the kinds of pressures that result in fatality and catapult them to national attention, these events should still be considered as representative of the stress that society faces today.
Thankfully, there are many resources on campus for those concerned about racial harassment or other race-related issues. The Office of Institutional Equity processes formal complaints of discrimination and harassment and should be utilized as needed. Other resources are available for those seeking consolation, or even just education, on different cultures. Counseling and Psychological Services is open to students wanting to pursue therapy or other forms of care, and even hosts an “International Student Conversation Hour” meant to “discuss and learn about how to manage experiences that may be unique to being an International Student,” according to the CAPS website. Race-specific locations like the Black Cultural Center, Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center, Latino Cultural Center and Native American Educational and Cultural Center are open to all students.
Even more encouraging is the fact that from 2014 to 2016, there were only three hate crimes on all Purdue campuses reported by the Purdue University Police Department’s Annual Security Report. Over the course of three years and 10 campuses, having only three recorded hate crimes points toward Purdue making great bounds in the area of racial equality, and students should feel proud of their university.
Yet there is still a lot of room for improvement, and everyone should strive to work to promote racial equality. Nuanced controversies like affirmative action, police brutality and other litigated treatment of races will exist for some time to come. These are harder for the average student to control, but everyone can still do their part to educate themselves on cultures different than their own, withhold biased commentary and work to demolish racial stereotypes in their daily lives — endeavors that will surely not go unnoticed.