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Hoax should not halt progress

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The alleged racially motivated incidents and apparent hate crimes that occurred last spring left us feeling hurt and raw.

Even after learning this week that the incidents were staged, some of those feelings still linger.

Following the 2019 incidents, the University took action to help the community heal, and to improve diversity and inclusivity.

There were vigils and forums.

There were social justice trainings for faculty.

We began to move in a positive direction toward embracing diversity on many levels.

Students found comfort in voicing their opinions about the microaggressions they had experienced from faculty and staff.

The work needed toward a truly diverse and inclusive community has begun.

A good start, but just a start.

Let’s not let the discovery this week that the horribly racist incidents were faked derail efforts and forward movement.

Let’s continue with the momentum that started last year even before the faked incidents.

When someone makes a false accusation, or poses as a victim, it puts real victims at risk.

They don’t want to speak out for fear their claims will be dismissed as well as false.

Let’s remember that staged crimes and false reports are still very rare.

Nobody should be afraid to speak up, if they are truly victims.

As for experiencing discrimination and microagressions, if you experience them, they are real.

None of this is to say that we should not breathe a collective sigh of relief that there is not some vicious, violent bigot in our community who posts online vitriol and commits felonies against people of color.

We should be somewhat relieved that this case is closed. But let’s not be complacent.

Let’s continue to work toward becoming a community that celebrates diversity and honors one another’s experiences.

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