Note: Headline edited for clarity.
It was during Sankofa’s February 11 Shop Talk event when the incident happened. Abruptly, during Antonio Johnson’s discussion of his new book “You Next,” a soundbite of derogatory remarks blasted through the speakers. Event coordinators swiftly removed the culprits within seconds and the discussion continued on.
Unfortunately, this incident, which occurred within half a minute, isn’t the first time that black students have been attacked during Black History Month. Recently, the Delta Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Rutgers University experienced Zoom-bombing race-based attacks which included racial slurs in the chatroom, playing racist songs about death and violence, and displaying graphic videos of murder and brutality. “Around 8:12 PM, the attack ended, and the offenders fled the Zoom chat. Later, we learned that they left to attend another Black History Month event and do the same thing,” the fraternity posted on their Instagram page. Chancellor Christopher Molloy sent out a statement to students and staff that he is “disturbed and saddened” by the incident.
Darius Edwards, an Advisory Board member of Sankofa, said, “what hinted me to what was happening was the influx of attendees joining all at the same time and the names. names that didn’t look familiar from the group of students my event circulated amongst.” It began with strange messages in the chat and then attendees attempting to speak all at once. “It ended with someone playing about 10 seconds of a song yelling the n-word. Luckily I had a team of colleagues helping me remove the culprits,” said Edwards. “There may be a way IT can track IP addresses, but I’m not privy to that process.”
The Stockton community has yet to hear from the school board. Many students learned about the hate act through social media and word of mouth. “In-person disruptions and instances of bias of prejudice, as well as Zoom bombings, are just as important to discourage and address with penalty,” said Edwards.
Student Senator, Brianna Bracy, learned about the acts when it was mentioned in a group chat. “They are taking advantage of the current situation we are in by pushing their hateful views,” said Bracy. “Stockton’s failure to mention these Zoom bombings does not surprise me. I just want them to be considerate and communicative with their students, especially during these times. The student body is suffering enough.”
In addition, students should be mindful when sharing Zoom details. “If sharing on social media where there’s not a majority of Stockton Students following, block out the Zoom info,” advised Edwards.
“Unfortunately, its expected,” Edwards continued. “Hatred and racism is embedded in the make-up of this society. It’d be naïve of me to think that hatred racism wouldn’t bask in the assumed anonymity of Beyoncé’s internet.”
Nevertheless, Black History Month at Stockton University will continue to excel and prosper. Later this month, Stockton Student Senate will be holding their “Continue the Movement” March. There will be guest speakers and free masks, food, and drinks. Those interested can preregister on OspreyHub.