By: Taylor Zachary ~Staff Writer~
A man once asked me: why do Black people shout? His eyebrows bent toward the center of his face with confusion and inquiry. His eyes sparkled with expectation. In this moment, I was his personal encyclopedia, a racialized almanac of some sort. Or so he thought.
A thick silence arose preceding an answer that never came. The sound of my fleeting footsteps gave his tense brows permission to relax.
I can only wonder, today, if his answer ever came. I wonder how often this question floats in and out of his mind, like the odysseys of a cloud through time zones. I wonder if he reads Black authors and feels the authors shouting. I wonder if his soul is restlessly begging for answers. Does he hear himself in the screams of Black authors? Did he see himself in the reflection of my fleeting footsteps? I wonder.
When a soft, motherly voice sits you down and must tell you about how your ancestors’ naked bodies were chattel and the descendants of genocide are printed for mass circulation, in textbooks and dollar bills, revered as moral dignitaries – one learns to shout.
Shouting becomes common when happiness is elusive. In churches or in community with one another, collective joy becomes too great a force for our bodies to contain. Shouting makes itself a biological necessity.
My people shout because hope is too often a mirage, a projection of our freedom dreams, a cold pillow and soft bed for our weary souls that only know how to disappear without consent.
Black people shout because they want answers to questions that go unasked. Like, why did the fences go up on the outdoor basketball court?
We shout because there are Black bodies dead in the streets and nothing in our coursework helps us understand why. This is a consequence of a university that focuses on benevolent relationships, while ignoring the power associated with those relationships. I’m talking about a university that is centered around diversity and inclusion while ignoring, in public discourse, the ways in which diversity and inclusion uphold white supremacy.
Diversity can only combat the presence of uniformity. Inclusion can only combat the act of exclusion. This is a paradox. Insomuch as an institution claims diversity and inclusion, so too does it concede to the allowance of uniformity and exclusion. Consequently, our “diversity” and our “inclusion” feel empty – “buzz words,” as I’ve heard administrators and students say.
Confronting anti-Blackness from an institutional level requires a fundamental restructuring of our education processes and campus culture. Until the greater Xavier community, not just Black and Brown students, demand action to dismantle deep-seated racism, our campus will only have the capacity to respond to bias and prejudice – the same bias and prejudice to which we silently consent and create space for.
For our university, dealing with the “rotten-fruit” of prejudice is more comfortable than uprooting the tree of anti- Blackness. My university looks upon these fallen fruits with anger while I am hanging from the tree. And this is why Black people shout.
Be it a student who claims #AllLivesMatter or folks who live blissfully ignorant of the fundamental difference between racism and prejudice, we are products of Xavier University – consenting participants of our core curriculum. Sit with this fact. Insomuch as Xavier continues to neglect institutionally embedded white supremacy our university can only create a curriculum that generates culturally, incompetent students.
Right now, is a moment for the dreamers to awaken from their slumber. It’s time for allies and co-conspirators to acquiesce to the formal destruction of institutionalized anti-Blackness and White supremacy. I will say this for the fourth time this semester: Black students are tired of not being heard. Xavier needs to center Blackness in its education.
My beautiful people, shouting is a necessary pre-requisite of freedom. Make your voice heard by any means necessary. If you don’t shout, who will?