Students need to wake up

Doesn’t life always have a funny way of humbling us when we reach the points in which everything that we’ve ever wanted has come to fruition? Our contentment allows us to shut our eyes to the injustices that take place in our own country every day. But we cannot live in obliviousness.

As long as there is breath in our bodies, there is a change waiting to be made. There is no better place and no better time to stand for justice and equality than right here and right now at Florida A&M.

Last month I was excited to join in the discussion of topics at the State of the Student Summit. Oftentimes we allow ourselves to bask in ignorance simply because we are young. However, when the odds are already against African-Americans, it may be in our best interest to pay attention to the politics.

Just after discussing racial inequality at the student summit, I was hit with another dose of reality. In an article posted on CNN’s iReport blog, African-American actors Dennis White and Cherie Johnson shared their story about being stopped by a white officer, Shad Barfield, in Marion County, S.C., on Sept. 22.

White and Johnson stopped in South Carolina on their way to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and visited a cotton field because they wanted to feel a connection to their slave ancestors. Little did they know they were about to be racially profiled on a level that should never be reached.

The two were handcuffed and falsely accused of being in possession of illegal substances, hiding a deceased body, trespassing and petty larceny. The couple was later released without even so much as an apology from Barfield.

This abuse of power is appalling, to say the least. However, the saddest detail may be that this won’t be the last incident of racial profiling.

This is why discussions such as those brought up at the student summit must continue to rise. Not only must we open our own eyes to the truth, but we have a duty to inform others as well.

Philip Agnew, a former FAMU student body president and the executive director of the Dream Defenders organization, said he believes there is a golden opportunity available for the taking in America.

“The America of today, we inherited,” Agnew said. “But the America of tomorrow is ours.”

I believe it is important for us to understand that we are temporary inhabitants of FAMU, and we should strive to make a permanent contribution to its legacy while we have the platform.

We have the knowledge, the resources and the networks to make our voices heard so that the brother or sister to your left or your right doesn’t become the next Trayvon Martin or Jonathan Ferrell. If we don’t make a conscious, consistent effort to break the shackles of silence that have imprisoned our confidence, we will never dance to the tune of justice.