Open letter: My experience with racist acts on campus

by RJ Hullum, Contributor

I am writing this letter to express my feelings surrounding current circumstances that I wish to not internalize any further than need be.

I am hurting, and I’d no longer like to.

I cannot truly describe the events as they happened minute-by-minute, so I ask that you understand it the best you can given the limited details.

As I was with some of my closest friends, a racial slur was hurled at me.I hadn’t noticed it until I had shown a video to my little brother, who pointed out that someone shouted it.

“N****r.”

At the time of the incident, I hadn’t even noticed it.

However, upon closer inspection and peer review, someone did indeed hurl this racial slur at me.

As such, I am unsettled. I have sat with this for many days and many hours and many minutes, pondering a way to express my feelings with the situation while not casting blame nor judgment.

How to heal from a situation without internalizing it? How to think of a situation without disassociating from it? How to make clear a foggy head, and heal a bruised heart?

All these questions and more I asked myself, searching for truth and meaning to define who I am and what I do. So, I looked upon my past experiences.

I reflected on my first encounter with a police officer who asked if I had stolen the car I was sitting inside, the one I paid for with my hard earned money, during their interrogation. Then I reflected on another encounter with a police officer, who aggressively pursued me from my parking lot to inside my house, because I had asked if he had rights to park within a private space to investigate.

Both instances scared me, surely.

Many thoughts passed through my mind as to whether or not I’d become the next George Floyd. Or Armaud Arbury. Or Treyvon Martin.

A Black male destroyed by the society in which he inherited no part of its quarrels or its quirks.

As a Black man who was elected to a position in response to the death of another Black man at the hands of the police, only the worst of ideas entered my mind when I heard the tone of the officer speaking to me in P4 and when I saw the urgency that officer had when unbuckling their seatbelt to come after me.

Both officers dismissed my concerns, stating them to be nothing more than reactionary.

And so I lived on.

As a senior, I have found myself at the top of the proverbial “food-chain” of Greek Life.

And as such, the assaults on my identity have only grown stronger.

As President of the Interfraternity Council, I have not once experienced the viciousness of racism from the hands of my fellow Greeks.

From others passing by, I cannot say the same.

As I was skating home from IFC Fall Bid-Day 2021, I felt a sense of relief. Making it through the rush season is a big task for any chapter, let alone for the council that oversees the many chapters that populate SDSU.

I could begin to see the ΣΧ Chapter House on College Avenue as I passed Poki and Epic Wings, I skated past a group of men, hearing a subtle.

“N****r.”

To be frank, I wasn’t sure if I had heard it correctly.

As I looked back in an attempt to replay the passing of the group, I received three glares, each of which was waiting for a response from me. I skated on, shaking it off as a miscommunication.

On Thursday March 10, a similar slur was uttered. This time, while I was advocating for mental health. This time, in front of friends and my advisors.

Words cannot describe how upsetting this is to me. I try consistently to do my best work and to put a strong foot forward. But I cannot do so in good conscience knowing that, as I fight the good fight, I will be discriminated against and treated differently because of something wildly outside of my control.

I have refused to be the “boy who cried wolf,” and have refused to allow myself to be nothing more than a pawn or a tool in another’s game.

I have worn my heart on my sleeve and have equally distributed it into my work.

And I can no longer bear the assaults on my identity as a student, as a son, as a brother and as a Black man.

There are times in history where individuals are called to action. To pick which side of history they will be on, and how choosing a side will impact their lives.

Will you choose the side of progress?

RJ Hullum is a senior studying applied-communication.