Letter from the editor: is silence not an act of violence too?

I have debated over posting my opinion on this issue because as a student media leader my job is to remain unbiased, so my organization sends the message that it serves all students. Regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or social standing, I have promised to do my very best for the public to know that the Current Sauce serves all students, faculty and staff and will be a reliable news source.

But I am at a crossroads. I want to follow the rules and be a great leader but holding back my feelings and staying silent is hurting me in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. I feel like I’m betraying my brothers, my dad, my fellow black students and the black men and women who have been killed by the hands that swore to protect them.

I didn’t know what to do until some members of my staff expressed to me that they were feeling the same way. They were hurt that I hadn’t put something out yet. I couldn’t help but remind them of the guidelines we must follow but I knew they were right.

How could I, a black and Hispanic woman, be the editor in chief of a college newspaper and be silent on something so many lives have been affected by? I didn’t know how I could remain neutral but still put something out without it looking like I was taking a side.

It took me four days after George Floyd was killed to realize that my words matter, and that people need to hear them.

I have cried tears of anger for days now, and I can’t get the sound of George Floyd’s breathless voice out of my head. I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel like I’m re-living the same nightmare repeatedly. I think the worst part about everything is that I have used each police encounter and thought about the ways that I could get out of it.

Each situation is a different scenario and instead of focusing on the unarmed man on the ground, I put myself in that position. I guess it’s a way to protect myself because it could happen to me one day. I could be walking to class or in a park and be stopped because I “fit a profile” and the next thing I know is my body being slammed against a wall or on the ground. The thought terrifies me so much.

I keep thinking about Mr. Floyd’s baby girl and that one day, years from now on the anniversary of his death, she will see the video of her father begging and gasping for air all over social media. I wish I could tell her that he wasn’t gasping, but he was fighting to stay alive.

Right now, all black people are fighting to stay alive as well. I know everyone is scared but imagine feeling that way every time a police car turns the corner while you are walking in your neighborhood. Imagine being stopped by police for a crime you didn’t commit just to be taken into the station to be identified by another person to prove that you are not a criminal. Imagine people calling the police on you because it looks like you are writing a bad check.

I wish that the peaceful protests hadn’t ended in tear gas. We have tried peaceful protests before, but it always ends violently. Three examples are walking on the bridge to Selma hand in hand only to be hosed down, kneeling during the national anthem to protest the injustice in America only to be kicked out and ridiculed or sitting with signs being six feet apart with masks on to be sprayed in the face with tear gas.

While it does sadden me that the protests had to escalate into fires and robberies, it felt like the only way to respond to violence is with violence. The people of Minneapolis deserve to be heard and to feel protected. It appears the only way to get action is to be outraged. Nothing gets done until public officials are put on the world stage.

I’m also not okay with President Donald Trump’s tweets early this morning. He is the leader that I never want to be. What leader publicly incites violence? What leader threatens and disregards his own people? We are all U.S. citizens; it doesn’t make any sense to me.

I don’t think that my anger and sadness will fade quickly, but I will remain hopeful for a better future. I don’t care how naive that sounds.

I hope the people responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death are convicted of murder and put in jail. I hope that the Floyd family will be brought justice and I hope that the memory of Mr. Floyd’s fight will be told to his little girl. I hope she knows that people fought for him and that he is a hero in her eyes.

To the students of Northwestern State University, this paper is your outlet. I am here if you feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, or as in my case, all the above. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in.

You are free to express your opinion if it does not discriminate or incite violence against a person or group of people.

I want to thank you for reading my words, and I want you to speak yours as well. Silence is an act of violence too.

I also want to thank our Student Body President, Nicholas Hopkins, for putting out a statement and mentioning the anguish of the black students on this campus. I’m glad he spoke out and I encourage all student leaders to do the same.

I will not use this position to pick and choose what pieces are published, nor will I use the paper as an outlet for my political beliefs. This paper is for the students, but I cannot forget that I am a student also. My opinion as editor in chief has no correlation to the paper.

In other words, the beliefs of my staff and I are not the opinions of The Current Sauce.

As I express my opinion, I want to remind students that their words matter as much as mine. You don’t have to agree with me to deserve to be heard.

To know that all opinions are welcome and will be treated with the same respect is the true meaning of being unbiased.

To submit an opinion piece, email The Current Sauce: thecurrentsauce@gmail.com or tvelazquez178911@nsula.edu

 

Trinity Velazquez

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