Black students at Grinnell College are calling for the school to respond to a string of racist incidents that have occurred on campus, per the Des Moines Register. Just last month, 14 cars parked on campus were vandalized with white supremacist graffiti. Black students fear for their safety claiming they’ve been the target for most of the attacks.
“I’ve been harassed by multiple white women yelling at me from their cars. We have students (taunted with) monkey noises on campus. We had a student get called a ‘monkey’ just off over by the gas station. And one of our good friends got told: ‘Don’t think I won’t smoke you, you stupid f——— n-word’ as they spun the block on him twice to say that — all right in front of and on campus,” said Loyal Terry, co-spokesperson for the Black Student Union, via Des Moines Register.
In response to the outcry for help, school administrators denounced the incidents and implemented a safety plan distributing “self-defense kits” consisting of flashlights and whistles. How will that prevent a racist attack? No clue. Terry and other Black students say they don’t feel it’s enough, considering the legacy racism has at the college.
Read more from the Des Moines Register:
Rhonda Stuart, a 1986 Grinnell College graduate, remembered run-ins with individuals who shouted the n-word at her and her peers while driving through campus. It’s a story many Black alumni share. Even her son, who graduated 33 years later, had a similar experience.
Apart from the recent racial incidents, Terry and Coffie said the murder of Michael Williams still weighs on them. Coffie, now a college junior, said she was a freshman when Williams, a Black man, was killed, his body burned and left in a ditch in rural Jasper County.
The four Grinnell residents charged with his death — Steven Vogel, Julia Cox, Roy Garner and Cody Johnson — are all white. Vogel, 32, was found guilty last November of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, while the others were charged with abuse of a corpse, destruction of evidence and accessory after the fact.
Terry told the Des Moines Register the college is often seen as a “bubble,” being isolated in a rural area. However, he said the bubble’s burst after the latest string of racist terrorism. The BSU launched a GoFundMe to provide recourses for students traumatized from the incidents.
Once again, when a school fails to meet the needs of their Black students, they must help themselves. Parents are known to remind their kids they go to school to get an education. Not once were we prepared to fight 1950s-level racism while balancing the stress of our academics.