“Frat lives matter is not a thing,” said Charles Coleman Jr. at his lecture “America After Obama,” highlighting the recent event that swept the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus.
Coleman, a civil rights attorney, took to the chance to denounce the act of vandalism that mocked the movement Black Lives Matter.
“It was never a thing, it’s not a thing, and it (isn’t going) to be a thing,” said Coleman “It represents the type of backlash that we find ourselves in, in the discourse of American society at present.”
Coleman, speaking to a diverse crowd at the Student Union Theatre on Tuesday night and discussed the changes that Americans, mostly minorities, are facing after the departure of Barack Obama from the Presidential office.
According to Coleman there is an underlying rhetoric of racism in America that has been highlighted due to Obama’s election and presidency.
In speaking on the topic of the election and its results, which he admitted shocked him, Coleman showed disappointment with those who voted for Donald Trump.
“Xenophobia wasn't enough, sexual assault, misogyny, wasn't a deal breaker,” said Coleman who didn’t label Trump verbally by name. “Making fun of the disabled didn’t stop you, racism and islamophobia weren't deal breakers, that’s very hurtful to a number of people. That's very difficult to understand that your decision belies a notion of contempt on my existence.”
In a call for social justice, Coleman urged people of all color – especially those with privilege– to do something proactive in the fight against racism and inequality in America.
“Recognizing your privilege and owning it is the very first step,” said Coleman. “I know some people are not really cool with hearing the notion of white privilege because it makes them uncomfortable, it makes them feel like they're being called out. Well, quite frankly I am calling you out.”
The idea of bringing people's attention to inequality and privilege seemed to strike a chord with student viewers who attended the event.
“I think it's a conversation that needs to be had even though people don't feel comfortable talking about it,” said Nicole Hamilton, a fourth-semester student at UConn. “It's really hard to get people around campus to go to events like this because you really have to want to have that conversation.”
Other students agreed that this was a conversation that needed to be had.
“I don’t always think about these issues, but he kind of brought them to the forefront of my mind,” said Brendan Lyga, a second-semester transfer student. “The issue with the painted rock, ‘Frat Lives,’ he really described how that was inappropriate compared to other legitimate lives matters movements.”
John Moreno is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.