Don’t Shoot the Messenger

It’s one of the first lessons we learn on the playground in kindergarten: tell the teacher you were pushed off the monkey bars face-first into a pile of dirt and you’re a “snitch.”

In childhood, it may not be a lesson we completely understand, but the concept is there. Like wine, it strengthens with age and time. Eventually it becomes less about childhood mishap and applies to everything from violence to crime to fraud to injustice. “I didn’t see anything, I don’t know anything, so don’t ask me.”

It’s every Rattler for him or herself, and loyalty takes first priority over honesty and justice.

Of course, the same rules apply to journalism, or student journalism. No longer is it about presenting the undiluted truth to Rattlers nationwide, good or bad. Accountability has left the building, and self-advertising, promotion, glamour and image trumps all else.

When Rattlers “speak out against their own” and shine a bright spotlight on every shady corner between Wahnish Way and Adams Street, all of a sudden, anyone with a conscience or a willingness to enact change and hold FAMU to a higher standard becomes a “snitch.”

It’s reminiscent of the 15-year-old girl who was gang raped in Richmond, Calif., outside a high school dance in 2009. Students sat and watched as the girl was violently raped multiple times, and finally someone called the police after the girl was dumped near a picnic table, barely conscious.

It’s a mindset too often promoted in minority communities, that we shouldn’t “air dirty laundry out for the world to see.”

Unfortunately, it seems airing dirty laundry is the only way to get it clean. Too often at FAMU, at other HBCUs, and other higher institutions of learning in general, instead of looking out for the good of the institution and promoting “Excellence with Caring,” it’s all about scratching each other’s backs and maintaining the status quo. Especially during homecoming, when all eyes are fixed on FAMU, waiting for something to go wrong.

Don’t call us a snitch for calling a spade a spade. Loyalty goes beyond hiding the dirt under the rug and making sure our friends come out clean. Loyalty is holding one of the top HBCUs accountable for every promise it makes, and giving it room for its reality to finally meet its potential.