The other day, nearing the end of my chemistry class, a friend of mine pulled out his phone and then laughed. Being the naturally inquisitive person I am, I asked what was funny. My friend began by explaining that on Twitter there is an anonymous feed called "yik yak." Then he asked "You know how all the Black people sit on the bench at the top of the stairs? Right next to the entrance?" Without waiting for a response he read what someone had said over yik yak.
A nameless user of yik yak had written, "Did you see that slave auction at the top of the stairs?"
I'm not sure how to describe my distress. Not only was I chagrined (to put it lightly) that someone would say such a thing, however I also felt anguish over the fact that this friend of mine could find such an offensive thing funny. I felt truly miserable because when he read it out loud I was one of only a handful that seemed to think it inappropriate. At least 7 others (in a class of 20) laughed out loud, and no one but me and one other, said we thought it a disgusting thing to say.
This experience was something that really affected me. I think that it isn't so much just because I was disappointed with my friends (in this instance), but more so because it made me think on a bigger scale.
In the 1870's our country, America, passed the 15th amendment. This amendment gave African American's the right to vote. Sadly, at that point, though the law allowed for them to vote, many states set up events, laws, or scare tactics to keep them from the voting booths. Now I think it is safe to say that those obstacles and issues have been removed. However, how well do we maintain equality?
I don't think anyone in my chemistry class would say African American's shouldn't vote. I think that the person who posted anonymously on yik yak wouldn't say such a thing to their fellow students face. This being said, on some level, equality was not shown in this instance.
Our country is a healing one. America began as the land of the "free." All better off white males were free. Our young nation has improved and exemplified this statement more fully over the last few centuries. By giving African Americans, women, and average citizens legal rights, and many social rights as well. However, it clearly has more room to grow. Though the laws reflect equality I think we have yet to gain an equal and free minded nation overall.
I hope that someday such rude and cruel things will not be said at all, much less received in such a disgusting bout of mirth.