It is up to institutions of higher education to protect their most vulnerable students.One of the greatest values of a college education is the opportunity to live, work, and study with people from completely different backgrounds. It exposes you to new ways of thinking, living, and opens your perspective beyond your own upbringing. When colleges take measures to properly orient students for this experience, meaningful dialogues and greater cultural awareness occurs. Too often, campuses fail to provide sustainable support and marginalized students are the ones who suffer the most. Such was the case at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where a white freshman named Brianna Brochu created such a hostile living environment that her Black roommate, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, was forced to move out. As Rowe was leaving, she was made aware of social media posts where Brochu called her a “Jamaican Barbie” and bragged about contaminating her personal items with bodily fluids throughout the month and a half they’d been living together. It was then that Rowe went public in a Facebook Live video and demanded that Brochu be held responsible for her racist bullying and harassment. She accused the campus of attempting to sweep the incident under the rug by quietly arresting Brochu without alerting her. She also spoke of ongoing medical issues as a result of Brochu’s abuse and being forced to come out-of-pocket for health services on campus. Rowe later told local radio station WTIC that school officials threatened to remove her from campus for speaking about the incident publicly. It was only after Rowe’s video that Brochu was arrested by Hartford Police and expelled from campus. Brochu confessed to third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace; both minor charges that carry a maximum sentence of six months each. Police then added a charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias to Brochu’s case, a hate crime charge. Many argue that Brochu should be charged with attempted murder for essentially poisoning her then-roommate. The National Fair Housing Alliance issued a statement saying the harassment may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Painting white boys and men as lone wolves has become a tradition of its own. Men don’t want to be seen as violent or toxic, and they don’t want to address sexism and misogyny.“I knew he had to be Black. I said it: You can tell this is a [redacted] because ain’t no rhyme or reason to none of these attacks.” Said my grandmother, circa October 2012, about the DC Sniper. Apparently because the shootings seemed random, instead of calculated (at the time) was proof of Black deficiency, of intellectual inferiority. A white mass murderer would have planned, calculated, deduced. This was one of my earliest memories of terror—distant terror because I lived in the Midwest. But terror all the same. I was twelve, and this was obviously right after 9/11. The DC Sniper’s name was Muhammad. That was enough for him to be labeled a terrorist without mens rea. (I learned that term from Legally Blonde, by the way.) In actuality, according to this research, the amount of mass shootings committed by white men, Black men, etc. is directly proportionate to the population. The main common denominator, if we exclude military/imperialism, seems to be gender: men are more likely to commit murder or violence period, though the reasons why are oft-disputed. However, it seems that, while “terrorism” is the go-to name for Black and brown perpetrators of violence, there is a certain hesitation people have when the accused is white. Also, equally suspect is the fact that the definition of domestic terrorism was amended—not, it seems, to stop violence but for the US to be able to target activists, organizers, and protesters.
It’s a cruel twist of fate when a presidential administration is sending the same message that abusers try to imprint upon their victims: You cannot hide. Nowhere is safe. No one can say that the Trump administration hasn’t been busy. Still