Read on The New York Times here.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — At every home game at the University of Alabama, where I am a sophomore, the fraternities sit in a reserved corner of the stadium. My freshman year, they wore Trump stickers. This year, they traded them in for Roy Moore-style white cowboy hats.
Over the past two years, a group of students has sat below them, wearing black to protest police brutality. We also sit during the national anthem. I sat there many times, still and silent, while frat boys jeered drunkenly at our backs. Our act of protest was enough to evoke floods of angry responses:
If you don’t like it here, you should just move.
In America, we STAND for the pledge.
Go kill yourself.
In Alabama, my home state, it’s not always easy to speak up — or sit down, as the case may be. But there has never been a more important time to do so.
At a time when a man accused of molesting teenagers is in a tight race for a Senate seat, the University of Alabama is full of #MeToos. And we must listen to them, value them, respect them and remember them. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed reported the story of Megan Rondini, a student at the University of Alabama, who was raped but then ignored by those to whom she reported it. She was denied appropriate counseling and the chance to be believed. After she left the university, she took her own life.
My campus is full of students who don’t feel safe enough to tell their stories — whether they are stories of sexual harassment, racism or other insidious kinds of abuse. There is a long history of refusing to address the many injustices the state.
Jonathon Kozol, who chronicled inequality in America’s schools, never wrote about the school system in Alabama, but his phrase “savage inequality” rings true when applied to it. Segregation is still rampant here. In crumbling public schools, black students pledge allegiance to dusty flags in cramped rooms, across from bathrooms with few working toilets.
I grew up in Tuscaloosa as a blue dot in a sea of red, where the voices of the powerful drowned out the opposition. My home was gerrymandered into the “good” school zone. But I lived just across the tracks from Central High School, which made national news for becoming resegregated.
Roy Moore is a key member of the chorus of politicians who talk but do not listen, and if he is elected, he won’t fix any of these problems. If anything, he is a symbol of the way they fester and grow.
Rebecca Griesbach is a sophomore at the University of Alabama.