On October 28, I arrived to my residence hall a little after midnight. As I walked down my corridor, my roommate stopped to point out a whiteboard that was hanging outside one of the doors.

“NIGGER” was written across it in black Expo marker.

I took a picture of the board, then went downstairs to show my Resident Assistant before returning back to my dorm room. My roommate went to the bathroom to wash the Halloween makeup off her face, allowing me to have a few moments to myself.

I remember sitting at my desk, looking at myself in the mirror, and verbally asking myself —

“What is wrong with me?”

My roommate returned to find me sobbing. She held me in her arms until I forced myself to stop.

Being black for all 19 years of my life, I am sad to say that racism is no stranger to me. This is not the first time I have encountered this word, nor was it my first racist experience. Living in Sylvania, Ohio, racism seemed to become an obstacle I encountered every day.  

I have been racially profiled — intently watched in department stores, followed by the police in my car and I have even been called the N-word to my face by a grown man with his young child in the passenger seat because I accidentally cut him off in traffic.

I came to college hoping I would never have another experience like this, but I did. And, quite frankly, I am tired.

Race is not an easy topic to talk about. Never has been, never will be. But if we, as a university, truly strive to have a more diverse and inclusive campus, we cannot flee in the face of adversity. A real, raw discussion is necessary.

There needs to be more than just a few minutes at orientation dedicated to discussing the inclusivity of Miami’s campus and more than just a few race statistics strewn across a website.

There is a discussion that is not being had which is evident by what I experienced. The N-word was written only a few doors down from my own dorm at Miami University. A place that I pay to live. A place that I want to live. Is this a representation of Love and Honor to you?

I am the only black female in my corridor, the only black student in most of my classes and the only black person present in many of my day-to-day activities. I hate constantly feeling like I have to validate myself for other people and having to make a conscious effort to behave a certain way in my predominantly white social interactions so I’m not seen as a threat. But most importantly, I hate constantly questioning myself and the actions of other people.

I love this university and I feel the opportunities here for me can greatly impact my life and professional career, but I refuse to spend my four years here feeling unwanted in a place where I am supposed to belong.

Let’s talk about race and talk about it multiple times. This lack of discussion has had a direct effect on me and continues to affect other people who look like me.

I belong at this university and I’m not going anywhere. Enough with the racial slurs and hurtful epithets.

Take a seat at the table. Let’s talk.

lumpkibm@miamioh.edu

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