We have a responsibility to do the very best we can in any aspect of our lives in which we feel passionate about. This includes our education.
We have a responsibility to make a difference in the world and leave a permanent paw print that represents our contribution to the greater good.
We have a responsibility to stand up and speak up for what we believe in; to show empathy for those with darker realities than ours because those realities could have been ours; and to break the silence on serious national issues.
This was something that was not done at Towson during the fall semester of 2014, when the last incident of police brutality (and its lack of justice) stunned the nation.
Well…most of the nation.
I’m proud to say that Towson has broken that silence on April 29, 2015, when a trio of passionate Towson students organized an on-campus protest in response to the police brutality, racism and civil revolution in Baltimore (Yes, revolution!). The protest then carried its way into the city, from Penn Station to City Hall, with thousands of high school and college students (not just Towson) chanting and marching for justice.
We were responsible that day.
This is only the beginning. It does not stop at one demonstration or one form of injustice. We must continue to break the silence.
But it takes more than protesting and marching to be responsible and break the silence. It takes us recognizing that a serious national issue does exist and that a revolution has been declared. Again, I use the word ‘revolution.’
Let’s be real: this is not unrest, nor is this an uprising. What has taken place in Baltimore over the past week, which has now spread to major cities across the country, is, in its entirety, a revolution.
The second dictionary definition (the sociology definition) of the word “Revolution” reads, “a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.”
Is this not what’s happening in Baltimore? I believe it is. An entire class—an entire culture—has shown us the anger, the desperation and the cry for help that we have been ignoring. And while we should condemn the violent acts and destruction that we have seen, we must understand it.
We must understand that this institutionalized, systematic, organized form of oppression has been happening for decades. In some ways, it has been happening for centuries. Not understanding is simply ignoring the cries and the issue at hand.
Baltimore is Towson’s backyard; my backyard. To some of us, it is home. I was not born there, I was not raised there and I do not live there. I do, however, have empathy for those who were born there or do live there.
Empathy: a word that was stressed at the Towson protest on Wednesday.
How do we show empathy? How can we be responsible? We listen to Interim President Chandler’s message`. We recognize and understand the issue. We recognize and understand the revolution. We look at every angle. We hold open conversations similar to the teach-ins offered here at Towson. We don’t limit these conversations to social media. We don’t post our most heinous thoughts and reactions on social media, publically or anonymously. We continue to listen to each other actively. We protest, march and strive for equality together. We demand justice. We heal impoverished communities. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
We have that responsibility.
I had a responsibility to communicate these thoughts, which may come off as controversial to some. Understand that I was born a black male; there’s not much my escaping controversy.
We must be responsible.
-Jared M. Swain
*Cover Image by TU student Saalika Khan