By TASNIM FAKIH, Guest Columnist
Tasnim Fakih is a Guest Columnist for The Michigan Journal. Tasnim’s views do not necessarily reflect those of The Journal.
On Oct. 27th at 6:00 p.m. in Kochoff Hall, a conversation on race took place. It was given by Keith Beauchamp, an activist who is also known for producing/directing the documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Till (2005), and other works as well.
The lecture given by Keith Beauchamp thoroughly explained the different experiences African Americans go through, since the time of slavery to modern-day America. Many different subjects were brought up, and many different opinions were spoken about. I can say that this was a lecture worth attending.
The war on race that occurs nationally and on a global scale is something that needs to be addressed, which is what Beauchamp has been doing for the past 22 years. He mentioned how there will always be a race issue here in the U.S. and how it is something that humanity cannot escape. I agree with this perception because it seems like no matter where we are as a society, there will always be those that find something to hate.
I believe that hate is the virus that plagues any nation. Fear causes hate, and hate causes tragedies. Why should anyone feel targeted against because of their race? Why should anyone get mistreated because of their culture or traditions? Why should people get killed because of their religion? I think that when we learn to accept the differences we each have, we can learn to care about the more important things in social society; i.e. poverty and famine.
If we each try to change ourselves and our opinions of how we treat one another, it becomes possible to progress as a nation. An audience member asked, “How many of us actually include people of other races in our group of friends in real life, as opposed to only interacting on social media?” Beauchamp agreed with this notion, as do I. When one involves themselves with others, it opens a pathway in understanding their struggles. We all have a story, and nobody’s story is better than anyone else’s.
Beauchamp commented how in some cities in America, there are literally no African Americans around. He mentioned how he visited certain parts of the U.S. and he was the only black person in the town. Children were staring at him as if he was an alien, and when he walked into a library, the librarian would not stick her hand to give him a handshake when he attempted to. He mentioned how he did not want to go out anywhere over there, because of how unhealthy and abnormal it was. I agree. I believe that children gain their beliefs because of what they are taught at home; thus when they are taught to be racists, they will act upon it. Everyone starts off as innocent and then learn their beliefs from their surroundings. The minute one reaches adulthood, he or she becomes responsible for their beliefs and actions. It becomes very wrong and cruel to treat others with disrespect, just because they are different than you. Arrogance is passed on generation after generation, and without acceptance or open-mindedness, there will be no change.
Beauchamp spoke about the tragedy of Emmett Till and his perspective on it. All I can say is that any kind of injustice is wrong and the pain that the family felt must have left numerous scars. Till was brutally murdered by the law enforcement because of racism. Although the tragedy took place about 50 years ago, Beauchamp still feels as if it’s his duty to speak up about it to prevent it from happening to any other human being. I think that the first step in solving any problem, to confront it and speak out against it. Beauchamp has been and is doing so.
My experience at this event was a very positive one. I went in expecting it to be a good discussion, but walked out feeling like it was a great one. I think that Beauchamp is a very thoughtful and passionate speaker. The fact that he mentioned his own personal experiences and thoughts proved that he truly cares about injustice. I feel very motivated to become involved as an activist myself and hopefully express my thoughts and beliefs to make a change in my community, and eventually the world.