Everyone deserves to be treated with respect

By: Kwynn Townsend-Riley – Columnist, Junior

My generation has witnessed many historical moments. We are the babies of the Sept. 11 disaster and the voters for President Obama’s re-election. We are the tweeters, the social media addicts and target audience for new smartphones. We are the ones who have to bring change to the world; it is our responsibility to change what is going on. With these recent events, these are not just moments in our history but movements.

After I traveled to Ferguson over the summer I was asked if I wanted to write an article about my experience. However, I decided I will not. Ferguson is not a black issue. What happened here in Beavercreek is not a black issue, this is a human rights issue. In my opinion, Ferguson should not be a justice issue for the readers of Flyer News. It’s simple common sense. Either you believe in human rights, or you do not.

So, how do I feel about the incident in Ferguson and the Beavercreek incident? Sad. Morbidly disgusted. I am scared to have a son, I am scared for my brother and my friends. I am scared because I do not know who the police truly “serve and protect.” I am scared because my skin tone frightens people and makes them feel uncomfortable.

I know I attend a school with many intelligent people, with students who have common sense. No one deserves to die innocently. No one. No matter if he had Skittles in his pocket, walking away from a corner store, had a toy gun in his hand or if she was asking for directions in the dark. No one deserves to die.

Being a junior, I am not surprised anymore that some students are not aware of the Mike Brown or John Crawford incidents. I am not surprised because of the racial climate we have here on campus. My freshman year at the University of Dayton, a student was surprised when I told him that Whitney Houston was not still in rehab, that she had died three years ago. Encounters such as that foreshadow my conversations with most students on campus when it comes to situations about my people. However, that does not excuse the lack of the anger, shock and intolerance that students express when they hear of situations like this.

I would like to know that people care about African American students at the university. Not because we are good for diversity statistics, but because we are good students. I would like for people to stop asking me about my hair, how “good” I speak or the music I listen to because questions like that are offensive. Because telling someone that they speak so well for a black person is not a compliment. Asking me how I got these braids in my hair does not sound inquisitive; it sounds flat out ignorant.

For the past three years, I have fought the battle of our racial climate silently with my fellow students of African American descent, but I cannot let this fester in my heart anymore. I am not just a black girl. I am not just black. I am Kwynn Elizabeth Townsend Riley. I am a human. I would suggest that when issues arise with humans of different colors, that we see them as humans, not their colors.

As long as we continue to bleed the same blood, we all deserve to be treated the same.

I deserve just as much respect as any student of any color on this campus. We all have earned our attendance here at the University of Dayton. I believe there can be a community, once we recognize the truly beautiful, colorful campus that we have.

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper