Oct 3, 2012 - Racial Hate at South Dakota State University: Natives Say No More!
By : Dana Lone Hill
This past Friday on September 28, 2012 a hate crime was committed in the bathroom of a dormitory on the SDSU campus in Brookings, South Dakota. Although, no one was physically attacked, the crime was still felt by many and everyone was in shock. Graffiti was found on a stall in the bathroom that called out some Native American students a racial slur by their room numbers and ordered them to “Go back to the rez.” The rooms listed were members of tribes from South Dakota, who were called out for all in the dorm to see with a cowardly, anonymous act of racism.
One young Lakota man, Ernest Weston, along with his uncle Wayne, were the ones to make the virtual world aware via social networks of the hate crime. Although he wasn’t a target of the graffiti. Ernest stated “When I seen what was written on the bathroom stall, I was completely shocked, and I still am. Even though It was not directed toward me, it still affects me because I am Lakota!”
He is right. It affects all of us. It affects the Native population of South Dakota because we wonder after all these years, hundreds of years, why South Dakotans still can’t get over the fact that we are not going anywhere. This was our home first. I am sure it affects non-Natives in the state too because it is not the opinion of the whole state. It does prove that race relations still have a long way to go in this state.
To merely sweep this under the rug, to brush this off as an incident that “happens all the time in South Dakota” is not acceptable. In order for change to happen, we have to look at this as a way to teach the world, this is not acceptable behavior. This is not right. Every person in America has a right to pursue an education and has a right to feel safe in doing so.
Wayne Weston posted the following update on Monday October 1, 2012 on his facebook post: “Had a phone call from a SDSU representative this afternoon they are investigating the incident as a felony and beginning various types of intervention this week for the students. This individual also stated that they will prioritize the safety of the Native American students and if they don’t feel safe in that dorm they will work to accommodate them for other arrangements. The University President will be releasing a press release today or tomorrow concerning this matter. I stressed to her that my main concern is that this should not disrupt the student’s daily lives as students because that is what they are there for. I would like to see this issue addressed without having to disrupt their studies because that is the reason they are there. I also hope that there will be an ongoing dialogue not only with the native students but also with their communities and Reservations they come from. Keep our students in your prayers not only at SDSU but all institutions our children attend…. Wopila”
To our young Native people, this won’t stop you. You are stronger and better than the cowards who, not only wrote this, but also can’t spell. Continue on with your dreams because even the fact that you are all in college, is proving all the statistics wrong. You are the next generation of warriors and your education is your weapon.
This hate crime is intolerable. This is not to be ignored and will be addressed. I hope as a way to teach others about diversity. Not everything you learn at home is a good thing and that is where this kind of hatred is coming from. There is a link here to let SDSU know your concerns.
*SDSU issued a statement saying “the campus police and school officials are looking into who wrote on the stall of a bathroom at a campus residence hall last week. and they do not condone the incident.”