Celebrate National Poetry
Month with Action
officer arrest him in class, then hand him over to Madison Police to book him into the Dane County Jail. There is something wrong about this
Black student’s arrest for something minor and as yet unproven, when we have not seen any decisive action from the dean of students or
concrete police actions taken against students creating racial, religious and cultural havoc.
No, it is not every student doing this. I hope that it is not even most students, but there is certainly an increase in student racism, intolerance and
threatening others. Chancellor Rebecca Blank has addressed these actions by tweeting, “unequivocally that the behaviors displayed in these
cases are completely unacceptable,” Dr. Patrick Sims, vice provost for diversity and climate is vocal in saying this harmful behavior must stop.
I wouldn’t want to injure or offend decent students who never participate in hurtful actions. I will insist that in 2016, people must stand up and
oppose bad behavior when they witness it. This young generation grew up being educated about bullying and how it takes one person to say no.
Racist, sexist and religious intolerance requires opposition from good folks. In all of these reported incidences, have there really been lots of
people witnessing the wrongs saying “stop or no, or this is unacceptable?”
Synovia Knox,one of the students harassed and spat upon, is from Madison and is a First Wave student. First Wave at UW Madison is
administered by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI). The First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the
country centered on urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture. When that Asian student spit on her, and castigated her because she earned a
scholarship, I said to myself, “he has touched a poet and I hope that she writes poems, plays, essays, novels, tweets, Facebooks even sings
about this incident.” I hope that all of the First Wave poets launch an artistic attack against this kind of injustice and perform it world wild.
Whether we know these students of color by name, they are our collective sons and daughters. As a community we are proud that they are
pursuing academic success, even while we are appalled at what they have to face to achieve graduation. As older adults, we have witnessed
in Madison, the poor high graduation rate of students of color, especially African American boys. Now we are witnessing the mistreatment of
university students of color, decades after we graduated from UW Madison. It wasn’t right what we went through and it is even more ridiculous
that students of color are still facing the same types of bias. There has been a request from The Real UW students for community groups to
support them by attending an event on April 22, 6-9 p.m. at The Chazen Museum. This poet says we need to bring our love, affirmation, and
financial resources to these young people who are representing our future well. They have not kept quiet about these injustices and we must not
be quiet about our whole-hearted support.
April includes a celebration of National Poetry Month which focuses on loving poetry. T.S.
Eliot states in his famous poem, The Wasteland, “April is the cruelest month…” Eliot
refers to changing, unpredictable weather. As a poet, I am saying that April is the cruelest
month because of the breakout of unpredictable, horrible conduct from certain students at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW Madison). It seems some students, who
consider themselves to be the majority or the elite, are harassing other students because
of their different color, culture, religion and/or economic status. In other words, these
disruptive students are completely breaking the law, according to the definition of hate
crimes, yet they are not being charged or their detrimental behavior stopped. It has been
reported that a Black student, about to graduate from the School of Journalism, was
arrested in front of his class on Thursday, April 14th, for allegedly protesting racism
through graffiti. We are reading and learning through students’ personal stories on
#TheRealUW about their terrible experiences on campus, mostly because of their race,
religion or culture with no arrests, yet this young Black man had two campus police