Just when I thought that gun-toting, "universal healthcare is socialism!" shouting crazies could only be found in Rural Town USA or behind the Fox News desk, I was proved wrong, when liberal healthcare reformists began attacking RNC Chairman Michael Steele at Howard University. Steele was on HU's campus speaking about—well, I'm not really sure what he came to speak about since most of the time was spent lecturing the audience on the usual rigmarole about increasing diversity in the Republican Party, the need for bipartisanship, etc., etc.
Though everyone sitting in my row had to ask one other, "What is this event even about?" things became clear when Mr. Steele touched an obvious nerve for most Americans: health care reform. As he repeated his party's stance: "No to federal-run healthcare," one of the few white faces in the crowded room interrupted, shouting about how her mother died from cancer because she couldn't afford the treatment.
What was Steele's response? "Congratulations, you'll probably make tonight's newscast." And he's probably right. I'm sure most of the Howard students in attendance were Democrats and probably favor some form of universal healthcare—both opposite of Steele's views. But after the radicals shouted their way out of the room, the only part of the event that had any real substance became muddled with the same sensationalism we've been seeing in town halls across the country, pulling the plug on any chance the audience had of healthy discussion and mutual understanding.
The student's outbursts and attacks were not only inconsequential in the healthcare debate, but they were down right disrespectful and rude. One of the few chances us young black folk had to get the ear of someone in government was ruined by party crashers who claim to be making their voices heard, but in reality did nothing but silence the rest of ours. So what do you think would have made the news? Twenty-something black college students showed up in droves for something other than a Li'l Wayne concert, but the air time will probably go to the white lady who was shouting until her face turned red. Thanks a lot, ma'am.
—JADA F. SMITH
is an intern at The Root and senior journalism major at Howard University.