Columnist responds to criticism

By: Kwynn Townsend-Riley – Columnist, Junior

This is a thank you to Chris Zimmer for giving me something to write about this week. Thank you for providing the perspective to prove my original point: We still have a lot of work to do to cure ingnorance on campus.

Since you encouraged readers not to let one bad apple spoil the bunch, I am not going to assume you represent the entire student body when you say racism does not exist on this campus.

Moreover, I do want to acknowledge and extrapolate certain points in your argument.

First, you cannot deny anyone their experiences. If someone told you that they were full, but you did not see them eat, you would not tell them that they didn’t eat.

I know it may be hard to comprehend that on our beautiful campus, something so disgusting, so evil, could exist. That is your opinion. But our campus climate is more than sunny with a chance of clouds. For me, as a black person, the forecast is usually sunny with a chance of microagressions.

I agree that our institution itself is not racist. If the University of Dayton was racist, you would not be reading this article because I would not be here.

However, some of the students at the University of Dayton contribute to racism, though they may not be doing it intentionally. I experienced what I experienced.

Because of the way I have been treated by our fellow Flyers, it has propelled me to do something about the proper recognition of American history. We need acknowledgement that February is Black History Month.  Personally, I think the bulletin boards, events and programs addressing cultural differences have helped tremendously. I can honestly say that the majority of my residents know more about Black History Month besides Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Because of these efforts, people can see black history is American history.

The African-American student population is not just  “3 percent” on this campus. We are more than a percentage. We are students. We spend just as much money on tuition as the rest of the student body. We are graduate students and potential alumni of this institution. Whether you think it makes sense or not, the University of Dayton has to pay attention to us too. Because we are a part of this community, it is imperative that UD recognizes us as well.

Chris, you are my fellow Flyer. In fact, you know who I am. You are my radio supervisor. You have my phone number. So for you to discredit my experiences and call racism on campus a myth, is painful.

Racism existed and continues to exist on campus. I encourage you to help me educate the “bad apples,” so I do not have to write about my traumatic experiences. I encourage you to talk to your friends about why saying the word “ghetto” is horrible, about cultural appropriation and the role racism played in Michael Brown’s death.

I have not used my experiences or YikYak to undermine the institution’s goals. That was never my intention. This is a great school, with great people and opportunities. I am grateful to be a Flyer.

The purpose of my article was to shed light on the student body. I feel included on this campus, but not acknowledged. I am a part of this community as Kwynn, but not as a black woman.

I want students to see my color, culture, hair, vernacular and music as something beautiful, not exotic, strange, stereotypical, crazy or distracting.

I invite you to help me make the University of Dayton the community it is supposed to be.

You have my number, so, hopefully, you can text me next time you encounter some bad apples.