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Hey UVA, Let's Have "The Talk"



University of Virginia


Hey UVA, Let's Have "The Talk"

Summer heat came a week early by way of tiki torches...

Jordan Simpson


For what felt like no less than a lifetime, I anxiously awaited the dog days of summer. I pined for the August morning that neither sweltering patches of heat nor inglorious showers could spoil. I filled my car so much that the rear window was swallowed by towers of luggage as well as the few pieces of home I could pack into my brimming bags. I had no choice but to look onward to the grounds that promised to warmly welcome me upon my arrival, and that was an exhilarating prospect.

Seven days before I was scheduled to move in, a news alert and #Charlottesville on Twitter swiftly assured me that hate didn't care about me or the four-thousand other first years ready to begin a new stage in their lives. In fact, it didn't care about any of us at all. Summer heat came a week early by way of tiki torches and fiery chants, and for the first time in my life I realized that fire could be chilling.

So here we go again with the conversation that our concerned family and friends had with us before we left (no it's not about the birds and the bees); the conversation we had with our professors on the first day of class that took precedence over our beloved syllabi, and the conversation that we just can't seem to let go. But to the reader of this very article, I can assure you that this message won't be the same compilation of carefully picked words that tip toes around the very issue we are here to discuss. Instead I ask: where were you?

This past month has been filled with empty promises and unsubstantial guarantees to "do better." The majority of students and faculty condemn the events that transpired, and view our school and community as a place that will not harbor intolerance. Sure, this is the right idea and all, but please wake up; 140 character tweets and seemingly computer generated emails will not solve this problem. Where were you on August 21st when the Minority Rights Coalition and BSA held their March to Reclaim Our Grounds? Where were you on August 30th when Professor Claudrena Harold gave a talk about our university's history pertaining to racial justice? Where were you on September 8th when The Hillel Jewish Leadership Council held Unity Shabbat? Folks, sitting idly and hash tagging BLM or putting a Human Rights Campaign sticker on your laptop will no longer suffice.

I cannot amass for the wealth of emotions we have all felt in the wake of these events, but the last thing that I felt was surprised. As a community, we can no longer be so naive about the reality of this world we live in. Bigotry of all sorts still exists, and voting for Hillary or expressing your condolences to the black or Jewish student in your lecture changes none of that. So, great. You are a self pronounced liberal, you thought the events that took place on our lawn were disturbing, and you have friends of all gender identities, races, religions, and cultures. That still can't be it. We are in an age where doing matters more than talking. In fact, we always have been. No, you won't always get the pat on the back or praise that you are looking for, and people might even oppose you. But the point I want to make to you is: if you do nothing- you don't care enough. That is the very issue we are facing right now.

So to the reader of this very article, if you do care in the same way you claim to, please go out and refuse to let this conversation die. You have more power than you can fathom.