Southern Illinois University Student Responds to ‘Go Back to Africa’ Chants from Trump Supporters

Southern Illinois University Student Responds to ‘Go Back to Africa’ Chants from Trump Supporters

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A Black student at Southern Illinois University posted a live video detailing the racism she has encountered in a residence hall from Donald Trump supporters.

Bartlett said the first incident occurred when supporters of the Republican presidential candidate said the Black Lives Matter movement was “retarded.” They also told the handful of Black residents to go back to Africa and called them the N-word.

After the second incident of the same nature, Barlett faced the group, who were members of the fraternity ATO, according to the Chicago native’s Facebook page. In the video, Barlett said she won’t feel uncomfortable at a school she pays $22,000 a year to attend.

“I refuse to pay my money to get an education,” Bartlett says. “To set the standard, to set the precedent for my siblings, my sisters and brothers that they can be successful only for you to deny me? No, bro. I went down there and I confronted all of them.”

In the video’s description, Barlett says the same group wrote “Trump 2016” and racial slurs in chalk on campus grounds, including on a statue. She says the campus did not do anything about the issue.

“Y’all want to have an open forum and an open discussion about Black people,” Barlett continues in the video. “Let me pull up a seat, let me hear everything you have to say in my face.”

The SIU freshman says the racist discussion the frat brothers had about Black people is what bothers her the most, “for the simple fact that, I’m a Black woman. I’m an entrepreneur and I’m trying to make it and it’s all these external forces going against me.”

Barlett gets emotional discussing being a first-generation college student and having to deal with the daily racial scrutiny.  And she believes her school won’t do anything about the discussion since there have been multiple racist incidents.

“It crazy to me that me and my friends have to have our safety threatened,” she says. “Have to feel threatened at an institution that we got accepted to amongst their requirements.”

Rae Goldsmith, an SIU spokesman, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a formal complaint has been filed regarding the incident and the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities has launched an investigation with the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell issued a statement after the video went viral. He urges students to support the school’s “core community values of respect for individuals, diversity and inclusion.” Adding that “anything less diminishes all of us. Free speech is an important right and value. It is also important to use that right wisely and respectfully.”

“At the end of the day, all you can do is to continue to be you,” Barlett says at the end of the clip. “All you can do is never let that shade get to you and keep being successful.”