Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Coexistence possible if we ditch societal divides

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Itís everywhere in our world: just turn on the news or go outside and youíll see it. As of recently, itís gotten more and more public attention. No one can ignore it (hard as they may try), and with each passing day it gets bigger and more overwhelming.

What am I talking about?

The divide amongst people. The racial tensions, the social tensions, the political divides. Whatever it is, itís everywhere.

These divides are now so vast that our society wonít allow a person to share a perspective different from ours.

Just over a week ago, Southeast student Brandi Wilson was fired from her job at a Jackson, Missouri, bar due to fears that a complaint she made at a different, unrelated shop would bring negative impacts to her place of employment. The issue centered around her feelings of discomfort as an African American woman after seeing a ďBack the BlueĒ sign in a local coffee establishment. Being unable to speak to the owners, she decided to post her concerns on the establishmentís Facebook page.

Thatís when things took an ugly turn.

The initial post received waves of backlash, with many negative directed toward Wilson. Owners of the Ground-A-Bout coffee shop made a formal reply expressing their sadness at the way Wilson was being treated and apologizing for her discomfort, but they said they ultimately chose to keep the sign in the window.

The day after her social media post, Wilsonís then-employers at Barrel 131 in Jackson fired her because of the negative association she was receiving. As a result, a sit-in was organized at Barrel 131 to protest the action taken against Wilson.

I attended the sit-in Friday night, and I was able to take much more away from it than I expected to. I watched as a small but determined group sat in support of Wilson while standing for what they believed was right. I heard Wilson express her fears about future employment and noticed how the hate comments made her feel downtrodden. I learned that yes, there are so many ways the human race can be divided; however, it doesnít take much to show a little kindness that will then go a long way.

I may not agree with every viewpoint out there or understand the oppression and difficulties some of us face, but I do know that no one deserves to feel hated. No one deserves to be condemned for personal beliefs. At the end of the day, we are all people. We all have rights and we all deserve to coexist and be happy with our lives.

Maybe you donít know what Iím talking about. Maybe you think, ďPeople these days get so easily offended. Donít be a baby.Ē Maybe you want me to get off my soapbox (Brace yourself, Iím almost done). Thatís fine - I just have one thing left to say.

If there was an issue you held near and dear to your heart or something you strongly believed in, would you express that belief and speak up about it when you felt it necessary? Maybe.

If, after expressing that belief, your boss called you up and fired you, would you feel hurt, violated, and wronged? Probably. If, still after, you were attacked by complete strangers and the greater populace for asserting your right to speak your opinion, would you feel even worse? Likely.

We donít all have to agree on the same issues. But with so much division and tension in the world, couldnít we at least try to respectfully coexist?

Ditch the divide: letís do it.

#WhatsUpSEMO #DitchTheDivide