‘Get to the back of the bus’: The issue of racism demands our attention

Chynna Fayne

There has been a lot of talk about an incident that took place last Monday concerning a Colorado State University student who wishes to remain anonymous. This student of color was waiting to get on the transit bus, and when the bus arrived, the driver told the student to “get to the back of the bus.” When the student asked the driver to repeat what was said, the bus driver replied something to the effect of, “All lives matter.”

This incident is a very unfortunate happening that comes neither as a shock nor a surprise to me. Many conversations that I have heard surrounding the issue have compared the incident to that of Rosa Parks and other civil rights movements. This incident coincidentally occurred the same week of the anniversary of the event involving Rosa Parks that sparked a civil rights movement. A piece of history that many people don’t know about, the bus demonstration, though, is that Rosa Parks was specifically chosen by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to do this. Another young lady named Claudette Colvin had come before Ms. Parks and had a similar experience with public transportation — she was told to relinquish her seat to a white person and she refused. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the same recognition as Ms. Parks for various reasons.

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The recent situation that happened at the transit wasn’t a reenactment of the Rosa Parks demonstration — this student didn’t ask to be targeted, nor did they ask to have this story told.

I believe that this is an extremely sad occurrence, especially in a place like CSU that swears by its inclusiveness and support of other racial backgrounds. The question of why racial tensions and racist acts are all of a sudden taking place is a very prevalent one, and one that I believe I have the answer to.

None of these issues are new. None of these feelings, experiences and life hindrances are new — the only thing that has changed is that people have finally found the voice to speak up about them. I think that the problem that a lot of people have with individuals speaking up about these issues is that it does generalize groups of people and, at times like these, it is easy to ignore the issues at hand by getting caught up in technicalities and stereotypes.

No, not all white people are racist, but enough people have experienced racism from Caucasians to make it an extremely problematic world for people of color to live in. This is not an all-of-a-sudden problem. These issues surrounding white supremacy, misinformation and lack of education have allowed individuals to walk around — some willfully unknowing and others just uninformed. White supremacy has been misconstrued to be related to economic status when really, a white person has privilege because they’re white. Those who are Caucasian have the ability to say, “That doesn’t affect me, so I don’t have to do further research about it.” But racism is a reality for some of us, and it does affect every single aspect of our lives.

To be unaware and uneducated about these issues, or to dismiss them, is a personal failure. A friend of mine always says we are living in the age of information — ignorance is a choice — and I couldn’t agree with her sentiments more.

It is really sad and ridiculous that into today’s world, a person would even utter a statement like that, but like I have stated in previous articles, the times are repeating themselves. With that in mind, people in general need to be extremely strategic, intentional and careful when these types of incidents occur. It’s not enough to merely become enraged — there needs to be some reflection as to what happened and the effect on all parties involved must be taken into account. We need to learn from it.

At CSU, we are supposed to be here to support and comfort one another, but a family divided is a family ruined. We all have to do this together. It takes each of us to make sure that things like this don’t happen. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed because of the color of their skin. It is everyone’s job to speak up or provide whatever form of support is needed when unacceptable events of racism, like what happened to a fellow Ram, occur in our community.

Collegian Columnist Chynna Fayne can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChynnaFayne.