Rally failed

The often-utilized quotation “History usually repeats itself” is a phrase which I, as an English instructor, am all too familiar with. And this particular case is no exception. It would seem that The Northern Star, through the continuation of the various pre-established practices of conveying women and minority issues in an all too “stereotypically” negative perspective, has managed to, once again, fuel the flames of an already smoldering racial stew and get Northern Illinois University into the midst of yet another racially-motivated disturbance. This disturbance came to a head on March 27, 1992, with a rather large demonstration by African-American students at the MLK Commons. Well, since The Northern Star is supposed to reflect the varied perspectives and interests across the campus while simultaneously providing the readership with unbiased reporting, and has failed to do so consistently over the years, my only comment to my fellow African-American is, “What the hell did you expect from The Northern Star?

Speaking from the perspective of an African-American male, especially one of the few that holds a faculty position within the university framework, I must state that last Friday’s demonstration at the MLK Commons was about as effective as dropping an ice cube in a smoldering volcano. While the resulting “stream” may have been momentarily pleasing, the end result was that the demonstration only served to fuel the fires of ignorance and alienation on behalf of the (white) majority of the university’s student population who were uninformed as to the reasoning behind the protest in the first place. And furthermore, the reality remains that The Northern Star is still in existence and functioning. Great job!

Brothers and sisters, you have failed to heed the lessons of our history. If we, as a people, have learned nothing else, it is that “History, in fact, oftentimes repeats itself.” And if this has any basis in truth, then we should at least be able to capitalize upon our past successes in order to prevent making present mistakes. For example, think back to the intricacies behind the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycotts, and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. handled the situation. He reasoned that the Montgomery bus system was more than simply an infringement upon the dignity of black people. To him, the bus system represented a business. And as we all soon learned, particularly the white-owned bus service, a business depends upon money to fuel its existence. Therefore, Dr. King organized peaceful, yet determined, protests to force progressive change. Well, I am here to say to you that if it worked for Dr. King over twenty-five years ago, then it will also work for us today here at Northern. The Northern Star is a business, just like the Montgomery bus system. It functions primarily due to the realization that various local businesses buy advertisement space from them. So I say to you that IF you don’t like the manner in which your particular issues and culture are being represented, or in this case, misrepresented, then simply leave the newspaper lying where it is. Don’t read it! Furthermore, don’t patronize the various businesses that support The Northern Star. By doing this, I guarantee that eventually, you will force a change within this closed-minded system.

Furthermore, it is high time that you utilized the rights that our ancestors fought and died for. Instead of stealing papers and holding a mock demonstration, storm The Northern Star instead. Actively petition for positions on the paper’s editorial and journalistic staff, and attempt to fill as many positions as possible. Be eager and determined to demonstrate your communications skills. The reason that the white majority at Northern has such a warped and pathetic perspective about minorities on this campus is that there aren’t enough of us out there pounding on the doors and demanding to take part in altering those perspectives. I refuse to believe that there aren’t any qualified people of color with the necessary writing, critical thinking, and communications skills to effectively strive for positive change within the damp and antiquated mental “dungeons” of The Northern Star. It is time for people of color, as well as any other individual that is willing to fight for the fostering of positive and equal representation, to stop complaining about the “system” and actively come together and make a stand. Otherwise, Northern Illinois University, through the continued cultural ineptitude of The Northern Star, will continue to put a bad taste in the multicultural mouths of the disgruntled masses.

Jacques Andre Betts

English instructor