The Torch

Family: Where Do We Go From Here?

What started out as unity has quickly been forgotten

Morgan Mullings, Opinion Editor

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The impromptu demonstration on Feb. 1 was the first time I have felt like I was part of the black community at St. John’s.

What happened to the victims of racial harassment, and what happens to black and brown students on this campus every day, also happens to me, a black woman.

I felt compelled to speak on the stage in front of administrators and students and express my experience. I was applauded by my St. John’s family, my peers, my fellow student leaders. I was truly marked by that day and I will be forever.

One week later, that comfortable feeling was promptly destroyed. Instead of feeling united with my peers, I felt betrayed by the events that proceeded.

The Torch was boycotted by nine organizations on campus who participated in the demonstration, because we were allegedly “not welcome” at the events that transpired in the Little Theatre.

The Torch has confirmed that we were legally and ethically allowed to report on the protest because of its public nature; I recorded audio to help with the reporting of the story that was published Feb 7.

While it’s not clear to me why some students didn’t want the demonstration covered, many students who were there told me personally that they did not want this story to go unnoticed.

Some even asked me if I was going to cover it because they were excited to raise awareness. Seeing some of those same people support the #BoycottTheTorch movement on social media was devastating — they called me family a week ago.

Then, the student body was granted a town hall meeting with President Conrado Gempesaw last Thursday, along with many of his associates.

I once again felt betrayed by my fellow black and brown students when the President of EDEN, a Christian fellowship group on campus, was booed during his time to speak.

EDEN President Roberto Benoit expressed an apology to the administration on behalf of EDEN that other students seemed angry with.

They booed him, spoke over him, and even yelled. Since EDEN has considered me part of their family on many occasions, which I am incredibly grateful for, I felt their pain during this time.

There was no reason for students to yell over each other in a mindful space, expressing anger toward someone else sharing their story and honorably representing their organization.

At the untimely end of the town hall, students got up and walked out — but it wasn’t all of them.

Students of Consciousness released a statement Feb. 10 stating that the walk-out was the decision of S.O.C. as a whole.

“We in no way meant to disrespect or antagonize anyone,” the statement says. However, the students who remained seated were ridiculed and screamed at, and some were left in tears.

I was one of those students. I am an SJU sophomore, a black woman, a member of Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry and the Opinion Editor of the official independent student newspaper of St. John’s University.

But I cannot say at this moment that I am also part of the family that had my back at the impromptu demonstration in the Little Theatre on Feb. 1.

In our fight against injustice, it seems as if we were not prepared for our emotions to reveal the divisiveness in our own community.

But after these events, I know that we cannot fight just with our emotions. Without hearing each other out, we hurt each other.

And I am in disbelief that it has gotten this aggressive. If you’re a black student and you have a question for your brother, or me, your sister, just go ahead and ask. It’s the conversations between us that matter the most.


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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University
Family: Where Do We Go From Here?