Sunday, July 14, 2024

HISTORIC BLACK VEGAS: Tragedy on campus brings home an important message

January 14, 2024 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Claytee D. White


A few days ago on December 6, 2023, four people died in a shooting on campus at our university. 

It hurt my heart, and it called my division to action in a giving, compassionate way. One of my colleagues had the idea to bring all students in our immediate area into our semi-private space. We forgot ourselves during the lockdown hours and attended to students’ needs. Those needing privacy were tucked away and checked on often. We passed out cookies, candy, and water. We cared for our own without stressing as three buildings away, a fellow human being had just murdered our colleagues. What are we becoming? What have we become? How have we forgotten our humanity? Or have I just forgotten how we really are? 

My history is fraught with man’s inhumanity to man while simultaneously, I have lived some of the most joyous times that can happen in one’s lifetime. My life spans the Jim Crow Era that practiced unequal housing, inferior education, no voting rights in many areas, segregation of public accommodations, and hangings when Blacks did not comply with unfair written and unwritten rules. 

Why do I have to mention this now? Wasn’t the shooting bad enough without having to inundate you with this history lesson? The shooting at UNLV began at about 11:51 on that Wednesday morning and at 1:27, about an hour and a half later, some members of our Black faculty across campus received the most vile email that I have ever read. It is so ugly and inhumane that I will not quote it here fearing that youngsters may see it. It hurt my already wounded heart. The sender of the email thought the shooter was African-American. What have we become? Or have I allowed all the good and all the blessings of my life to allow me to forget who we really are? 

Isabel Wilkerson’s second book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” follows “The Warmth of Other Suns” — and both are must-reads for their brilliance, well written history, and truth. We cannot forget, “Caste” reminds us, that Hitler used tactics from the colonial and U.S. slavery years to inflict punishment upon Jews during World War II. “The Warmth of Other Suns” reminds us of our resistance to unfairness, inequity, and Jim Crow treatment. Let us learn, reason, use critical thinking, and not follow anyone blindly. 

Thus, I am ending with a reminder. Reports are showing that some Blacks, especially young men, are moving toward the dictates of Trump while Trump is moving into perfect alignment with current world dictators. What are we becoming? Have I forgotten who we really are? Does race matter? 

The UNLV shooter killed three people of color. We can only speculate but the shooting rampage was probably carried out because he was not hired for a teaching position in the Business School. He killed three people of color in BEAM hall who were all working as professors. Young Black men, be careful how you vote and who you support. Trump is arming shooters and training them to aim their AK-47s at you, your mothers, your wives, your sisters, and your grandmothers.

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