On Oct. 29, CBS affiliate WCTV posted an article on its website entitled “FAMU Homecoming Safety.” The article warned Tallahassee residents that traffic would most likely be congested throughout the weekend, especially on Apalachee Parkway and Tennessee Street.
Now I had no problem with that because, as most of you saw, those two streets were indeed bumper-to-bumper. As I read the rest of the article however, traffic wasn’t the only thing the story warned residents about.
Because it was our homecoming, police officials interviewed for the article said they wanted to “remind everyone to be cautious and remain alert while out and about.” They also wanted to assure residents that officers would be “out all around town patrolling the area and making sure everyone is on their best behavior.”
At first I thought, “Brandon, you’re acting like Al Sharpton, stop overreacting.” So I read on. A Tallahassee Police Department spokesperson, David McCraine was quoted later in the article telling residents to be patient, have fun and oh yeah—to “report suspicious activity.”
Now I will be the first to admit that FAMU students and alumni do not always reflect the university as we should during homecoming, but can we at least get the benefit of the doubt?
Obviously, the article offended me because I’m black, but more so because I’m a Rattler. If any black person in the entire city does something wrong during homecoming, it’s affiliated with FAMU, a historically black university. That’s not right.
If someone, of any color, commits a crime during Florida State’s homecoming, which started yesterday, I’m sure neither the media nor police officials would affiliate one with the other.
As journalists, whether professional or student, what we report is highly influential to those who receive our news. When we are not careful with the information we put out, we sometimes help create stereotypes and misconceptions about specific groups of people.
In fact, one user left a comment on the page of the homecoming safety article saying:
“Seriously??? The headline of this story is a joke! the words ‘FAMU Homecoming’ and ‘Safety’ just don’t go together! My advice to everyone would be to stay as far away from Tallahassee as possible this weekend! There’s probably a good chance that you’ll get robbed, car-jacked, or have to dodge bullets… just sayin! ‘Hide ya kids, hide ya wife!!’
Honestly, I laughed after reading this comment. Not only did he recommend “white flight” from Tallahassee during FAMU’s homecoming weekend, but he also made a pretty hilarious reference to Antoine Dodson (who, on a side note, has his own Wikipedia page with multiple credible sources).
One of the things I’ve noticed throughout my years at FAMU is that there is a clear color line in Tallahassee—the railroad tracks.
When my mother, a Florida State alumna, dropped me off my freshman year at the Paddyfote dormitories, she told me to remember that I didn’t have to restrict myself to the orange and green side of town—that I should also interact with the Seminoles “across the tracks.”
Yeah, I haven’t done much of that. When I think of FSU students, regardless of race, I tend to get a bad taste in my mouth.
Most of us have heard of “White privilege,” but in Tallahassee, there is also such a thing as “Garnet & Gold privilege.” In Tallahassee, FAMU and FSU students are treated differently—especially by law enforcement officials.
Earlier this year, I was pulled over by a police officer and the first question he asked me when he approached my window was, “What school do you go to?” Instinctively, my face scrunched up into a confused look. I was offended. He should have asked me if I had any guns or weed in the car—at least I would have expected those questions.
Maybe I’ll purchase a FSU license plate holder, some Seminole t-shirts and a Bobby Bowden bobble head doll for my dashboard.
Next time I get pulled over, I’ll just tell the officer I’m the backup point guard for the FSU basketball team and apologize for how fast I was driving. I’m sure it’ll work—”Garnet & Gold privilege” baby.