2nd 2023 Post – Beat Up

Blog Posts where Race is an Aspect of the Themes

Uluru - Ayers Rock

One Saturday evening in the fall of 1971, I was coming back to my dorm. I walked a familiar route and was next to my dorm in front of the campus bookstore and about to climb some steps that would lead to more steps to my dorm. Six or seven young black men were walking in the opposite direction. They were not students. As they passed, I was bumped. I looked at them and before words could be exchanged, they all started to beat me up. I quickly fell into a fetal like position trying to protect my face with my hands. My face had been struck with fists when I was standing and as I fell. As I lay in a fetal position, I was being kicked by many of the young men all over my body. As this was occurring, I started to cry. I could not fight back – it would have been useless. It went on for two or three minutes and time stood still – seeming like an eternity. Then one of the men spoke and said, “let’s go,” and they all ran.

I was able to stand with difficulty and began to ascend the steps to my dorm. As I did, four white residents of the dorm came out, yelling profanities and it was clear from what they were saying that they saw some of the beating I had just received. I was still in tears, and hurting all over. The live-in resident dorm counselor asked the four residents if they could take me to the hospital as blood was visible. They agreed.

I got in the car with them, still in tears. As they drove, the young white men began streams of expletives laced with the “n” word directed in anger at those who beat on me. This made me cry even harder as being in the midst of this hate was deeply repugnant to the point that it was unbearable.

When we arrived at the ER at the hospital, they offered to wait for me. The hospital was about two miles from campus. I said no, please leave. I could not bear to be around these hate-filled epitaphs. My pain from the hate seemed to exceed the physical pain from the beating.

I was examined. No stitches. Some bandages. Released. I walked home – now late at night – over two miles back to the dorm, periodically breaking into tears.

The next morning, I came down for Sunday breakfast in the dorm as usual. By this time, word had spread about what happened to me. I had expressed verbally strong displeasure to the four who took me to the hospital, so numerous fellow white students stayed away from me. A few of my Black teammates stayed away as well. They seemed not to know what to say. That was painful. Over time, I came to understand my teammates’ distance.