Covington students should take responsibility

By Chantelle Hicks, Columnist

Last week, many indigenous activists and leaders set out to march on Washington. However, this event coincided with the March for Life protest against abortion. The highlight of the march wasn’t the protest itself, but rather the disrespect the Native community encountered. The goal of this march was to bring light to the mistreatment Native Americans have experienced for decades.

But on this day, the media saw just how strong hate and ignorance is toward Native people. Particularly, Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old veteran who is a prominent leader in the Native American community.

During the March, students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats stood in Mr. Philip’s face yelling demeaning and hateful statements regarding his nationality, race and heritage. It’s no secret that Trump supporters are blind to the hate and violence they elicit when it comes to expressing their opinions. But, after this event people are still confused as to who ultimately is responsible.

So, who do we blame? If Trump is the culprit for the rise of hate crimes in America, why would this encounter be any different? Racism has always been an issue, but since his presidency, we have seen an increase in hate crimes toward minority communities. Trump supporters seek comfort in his hateful words, he sets the tone for this kind of behavior.

Let’s be clear, though, that we absolutely must not ignore personal responsibility; however, when you see someone of the highest influence disrespecting, mocking and deliberately causing division, it becomes socially acceptable amongst Trump’s supporters.

And this march was one of many instances where we see how powerful his influence really is.

Many thought the harassing teenagers shouldn’t be punished because they are “just children” and “don’t understand the power of their words.”   The problem is that’s the same kind of thinking that welcomes this kind of behavior. If this was a minority student, do you think he would have been granted such an excuse? No, and neither should these teenagers.

The teenagers’ high school, Covington Catholic, released a statement saying  “The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion. We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”

Many things are wrong with this statement. One includes the lack of empathy for the Native American community. Nowhere in this statement do we see them express regret for the treatment of the Native community. Instead, they are worried about the other March for Life patrons and their inconvenience.

What is there to investigate when there are many videos of the students doing everything that they are being accused of?  Is video evidence not sufficient enough? On some levels, this serves as a reinforcement to the ideals Trump preaches about. Make America Racist Again, is written all over this march and treatment toward the Natives.

Although we don’t know where this investigation will end, let’s hope the Native community gets justice. We are the ones who can make a difference in ending this stigma toward the Native community, so let’s do it. Let’s end all the stigma attached to race, sex and ethnicity. Until we are able to do that, we will always live in a world full of hate. A silent voice is a dead voice, so speak up.

Chantelle is a sophomore in Media.

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