The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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The “Black Experience”

By Tyrell Russell

The archetypal “angry black male” doesn’t even scratch the surface in defining my rage. If nothing else, black people have one thing in common. We’ve all been asked about our “Black Experience.” Well, read closely.

You enter kindergarten beaming, fresh-faced with anticipation. Your body quakes with excitement at the prospect of knowledge, friendship and of course, identity. Here’s the “gotcha.” Your identity is chosen for you. Prior to starting school, your parents send school officials a disclaimer about your awful behavior, just because. In fact, they criminalize you in a manner so vile and perverse that the school decides to develop an action plan about how they will deal with you. When you sneeze too loudly, they blindly assume that you’re on the brink of a tantrum. When you make a sudden movement, they assume the onset of a behavioral disturbance. You cannot win for losing. To make matters worse, your parents are the source and finish of your newfound plight. An end. Now, you wonder, “Why doesn’t my little brother face the same amount of betrayal from our parents? The same wrath and dih-skrim-uhney-shuh-n? Am I still any good? Am I still smart?” You meddle through these questions while still holding on to the painful realization that you have no one, not anyone, in your corner but yourself. Now that’s sad, and I mean sad in every sense of the word.

This is what black people see, America. In some convoluted way, this country has managed to morph institutions that we PLEDGE to believe in, the government, healthcare system, prison system, education system, THE system, into sworn enemies that behave like they will go through hell and high water to see us destruct. On paper, these institutions play an odd yet comfortably familiar role. To serve and to protect. But no, maybe that expectation is too utopian. The outlook is grim but it’s real. In this country, we witness (some more than others) a divided house. Mom and dad, properly known as the executive, the judiciary and the legislation, play favorites. Okay that’s cute or whatever. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no. The child, black people, who gets the short end of the stick, better keep quiet about her frustrations, or else. The other child, the coveted, sacred sibling, says nothing about the dysfunction because, why would he? (Unless he’s really, really good).

As a black person, I know that my rage is not my own. It is controlled by someone else, a power. Maybe it is controlled by the same power that makes me sit in class each morning, quietly and subdued, despite my rage. You see, when people ask me, “What is it like to be black?” I assume that they are insolent and, awfully, lazy. I turn inward and I ask myself, “Isn’t it obvious?” I mean come on, we know this stuff.

According to dosomething.org, studies show that police are more likely to pull over and frisk blacks or Latinos than whites. In New York City, 80 percent of the stops made were blacks and Latinos, and 85 percent of those people were frisked, compared to a mere 8 percent of the white people stopped. In 2010, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that African Americans receive 10 percent longer sentences than whites through the federal system for the same crimes. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that an African American male born in 2001 had a 32 percent chance of going to jail in his lifetime, while a Latino male has a 17 percent chance, and a white male only 6 percent.

The “Black Experience” is being pushed down and getting back up again.

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