Category Archives: Blog

Civil Discourse Isn’t a Lecture

As usual, the UNC College Republicans are hosting an event about free speech. Can I just say that if I was politically ignorant and didn’t know what traditional Republican beliefs were and I was solely basing it off the College Republicans, I would think Republicans only care about being anti-political correct and protecting hate speech. Anyway, I digress.

So Dr. Mike Adams is coming to campus next week. He’s a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He studies sociology and criminology and is a self-proclaimed liberal….interesting.

In the past, Adams has posted things on his Facebook page such as “the only thing more disgusting than a jihadist Muslim is a pro-choice Muslim” and “let’s make it illegal for doctors to mutilate the genitals of the mentally ill. That would resolve the whole hb2 thing”.

Last week, UNC College Republicans wrote a letter to the editor of the The Daily Tar Heel basically saying Adams is a cool guy and the UNC community should come hear him speak.

Here’s my issue. I don’t care that this guy is coming to campus. Come, speak, whatever. But the problem is he is solely speaking, not engaging. He is going to come here, spit his rhetoric about why being politically correct is a joke, probably offend the LGBTQ community, and maybe entertain some questions from the audience about how to deal with being the only republican in their class.

I don’t want to go to that. I don’t want to attend a lecture by someone who is going to shit on my beliefs and then not even going to give me a chance to explain my opinion? That isn’t discourse, it’s a lecture.

If I wanted to engage in civil discourse, I would grab have an actual conversation with someone who has different viewpoints than me. Hint: this doesn’t necessarily have to be a Republican but for the sake of this article let’s pretend it is. We would grab coffee, talk about ideology, talk about political institutions, and try to figure out how we came to develop what we believe. Talk about the experiences and identities we bring to the table and not invalidate them. Listen to learn, not to respond.

If I go see Dr. Mike Adams, is the coffee scenario the kind of civil discourse I will get to engage in? Probably not. And there is the main problem. Sure, I could go to this lecture and ask a question challenging him, but that is not an environment I personally want to be in. I don’t want to ask a question and instead of him answering it, he tries to invalidate me and my opinion. Just like a Republican probably wouldn’t want to come to an explicitly Democrat speaker event and challenge them and then get embarrassed by a room full of people that have pre-conceived notions about you and your party.

The way I see it, I wouldn’t go to this event to engage in civil discourse. I don’t think being surrounded by people who don’t agree with you is the best way to have a conversation. But I would go to gain a different perspective. To hear different opinions, and then maybe discuss them later one on one with someone I did feel comfortable having this conversation with. I’m all for leaning into discomfort, but that discomfort needs to turn into growth.

I guess my point is, UNC College Republicans, own up to what you are doing. If the tables were turned and UNC Young Democrats hosted this type of event would you come? This isn’t civil discourse, this is a lecture to engage in confirmation bias. To have someone confirm what you already believe is true. If you want to engage in civil discourse, have an actual conversation.

An Honest Discussion with a Black Cop

When I went home for Thanksgiving, I was ready for the relaxation, food, and fun with my family. I didn’t think that I would end up having deep conversations and debates with my family members, specifically my uncle. My intentions were never to have any type of conversation; it was Thanksgiving after all and we were supposed to be enjoying each other’s company. However, my uncle and I began talking.

To preface this, my uncle is a cop. He came in with a blue lives matter wristband. At first, I was a little defensive. Of course, cops need to be protected as well, but at the end of the day, the blue comes off and the skin they are in remains. The black skin my uncle is in remains. I’m as nervous for him to be out doing his job as anybody else. He’s a good cop and great at his job, but there’s still forces outside of his control.

I asked my uncle what he thought about all of the cop shootings that we had. His opinions were ones that stuck me. Not in a negative way, but in a way that had and continually has me thinking of how everyone can do better. My uncle is a corporal, which means he sometimes train the new recruits.  He recalled a story of when he was with a recruit that did a horrible offense.

My uncle decided this particular recruit was not feasible to be pushed through to the next level of work, so he wrote it in his report. The next week, the same recruit had been pushed through anyway, even though my uncle had specifically said in the report he would not be good on his own. For the next couple of months, that recruit had been demoted and pushed through time and time again for breaking the rules or doing something that put others in danger.

My uncle explained that the police force is looking for quantity over quality. They need people, regardless of how good or bad they might be. Sometimes it’s not as simple of having good cops and bad cops. It’s not that the good cops aren’t doing anything. It might just be that there are higher ranking police officers pushing people through who aren’t trained well enough to have a gun and a badge. While my uncle is saddened by the shootings, he hates the narrative that the good cops aren’t helping because they are. Citizens, especially protestors and activists, just can’t see that part.

On the other side, we talked about the black community and what they are doing wrong in this situation. Don’t get me wrong, he was not defending these senseless shootings, but we did talk about how the black community is locked up on a much higher basis than the white community. Black people, especially black men, are being locked up for the same crimes that everyone else does. But why is this so? My uncle discussed the dynamic that happens when black people get caught repeatedly. Something most people know is that most of the black men in jail are there for non-violent drug offenses. If a person gets caught one time, the judge considers this your first offense and the sentence, if there is one, will be light. As a person continually gets arrested for the same offense, the punishment gets harsher. The importance of knowing and recognizing this by everyone is extreme.

We have to have a discussion about both of these situations that are happening on a daily. We have to create a dialogue between police and the communities, especially the black ones, they are supposed to protect. Everyone needs to work together to make their communities better. We have to stop calling for good cops to speak out because they genuinely might not be able to. Police precincts are still filled with politics just like everything else. Everyone can benefit from information from the other, so let’s sit down with our officers at the local precincts and have an honest, open discussion.

Street Harrassment

Eyes straight ahead. Keys firmly clutched in hand, pepper spray ready. Headphones in, music on mute. Keep walking. Stay brisk—don’t slow down.

The sun is setting. Franklin Street is suddenly bathed in a warm, glowing light. You allow yourself to briefly relax, a moment to take in the picturesque scene before you. A male pedestrian asks you a question.

Ignore. Continue walking. A group of women across the street catch your eye. Cross the road. Walk behind them.

Finally, you arrive at your destination—you can breathe, a sigh of momentary relief before you soon must leave again.

This script is repeated over and over and over again, no matter the time or place.

Go out in groups.

Carry a pocketknife.

Always stay alert, never let your guard down.

Check, check, check.

If someone attacks you, it’s because you missed something. A slip-up. You’re targeted with questions.

Why’d you wear that?

Can’t you take a compliment?

Why were you out so late?

When arriving at UNC-Chapel Hill, incoming students are told that Chapel Hill is the Southern Part of Heaven—a safe, fun, inclusive haven where you can freely learn and grow. For many students, though, this promise rings hollow.

This insidious, constantly unsafe feeling in public spaces is characterized by street harassment—sexual harassment in public spaces, including catcalling, stalking, touching without consent, etc.

Street harassment is incredibly prevalent. In a study conducted by Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment organization, and Cornell University, researchers found that 29 percent of those who shared their experiences of street harassment on Hollaback!’s website were physically touched in a public space without their consent, while 57 percent were subject to verbal harassment.

On college campuses, harassment has other implications, too. The threat of street harassment often will dissuade women from studying in a library late due to fear of walking home late at night, negatively impacting academics. According to Hollaback!, 67 percent of students experienced harassment on campus, 61 percent witnessed another student being harassed on college campus, and only 18 percent of students had not experienced or witnessed harassment on campus. Hollaback! Also found that a staggering 46 percent of students said harassment caused disappointment with college experience.

I can recall multiple times in which I simply decided to remain in my dorm to complete assignments during the evening, even though I focus significantly better in a quiet, studious library—a choice male students, specifically cis, white, heterosexual men, rarely have to consider.

Women and other marginalized folks should be able to freely exist and move around in the world without fear of potential bodily, mental, and emotional harm.