CARBONDALE, Ill. – A black Southern Illinois University freshman is getting a lot of attention after she posted a profanity-laced Facebook video about alleged racism by Trump supporters at the school.
“They said the black lives matter movement is retarded,” Leilani Bartlett complained in the video. “They told us to go back to Africa. They saying the ‘N’ word, calling us ni*****, all types of stuff.”
Bartlett posted the video April 5 to vent her frustrations about pro Trump sidewalk chalkings at SIU, and a recent meeting of students who support the Republican presidential frontrunner. She also penned a lengthy caption to go with the rant.
“I’m at my residence hall and all I hear is TRUMP 2016. The same group of kids in a fraternity (ATO) drew Trump 2016 and various racial slurs on chalk on the ground and on campus monuments,” she wrote. “The campus did NOTHING about it. They had multiple open discussion in the hallway that were completely and utterly racist. …
“The Residence Assistant on their floor stood in solidarity WITH THEM. Who do you go to when your oppressors are your authority?”
The teen elaborated in the video, which has been shared well over 5,000 times and viewed more than 150,000 times since it was posted last Tuesday. The video also prompted school officials to launch an investigation into the allegedly racist Trump-supporting students.
“I’m just casually walking to school, and you just see ‘go Trump’ all over the motherfu***** floor on your way to class, you see ‘build a wall’ on the rocks and monuments at the school, you see shit like ‘f*** Bernie,’ shit like that all over the floor and you’re trying to walk to class,” Bartlett said in the video.
“I get home to my dormitory … it’s kids having an open forum about being Trump supporters and I’m all about having your own political views – you can believe anything you want to believe – but it’s the point where it gets disrespectful. Me and my friends are the minority in this residence hall, meaning it’s a handful of us and the rest are predominantly white.
“You are openly discussing racism and being racist. They said the black lives matter movement was retarded, they told us to go back to Africa, they saying the ‘N’ word, calling us ni*****, all types of stuff. So that was the first incident they do it.”
Bartlett alleges a second discussion motivated her to take action.
“That was the first incident they do it. They come downstairs again, have it again,” she said. “You’re not gone make me feel uncomfortable at a school I pay $22,000 to go to. I refuse to pay my money to get an education to set the standard and the precedent for my siblings, my sisters and brothers, that they can be successful only for you to deny me and try to make me feel uncomfortable somewhere I pay my money for.
“No bro. I went down there and I confronted all of them. Ya’ll want to have an open discussion and open forum about black people, let me pull up a seat. Let me hear everything that you have to say to my face,” she continued.
Bartlett then gets emotional in the video.
“That’s the thing that messes with me and bothers me the most, for the simple fact that I’m a black woman, I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m trying to make it,” she said. “There’s all these external forces going against me and you all always have so much to say about black people. Black people this, black people that. We the reason to blame for our circumstances, we got to reap the consequences of our circumstances.
“What about the ones that’s doing what they supposed to do?” she questioned as tears streamed down her face. “What about the ones that striving to be better? What about the ones that is trying to be successful? I’m here in college. I’m first generational. My parents didn’t do this, they pushed me to do this and I got to go through this? I got to basically worry about if I lay my head at night what they going to do to my door, what they going to do to me and my dorm and know my school ain’t gone do nothing about it cause this is a multitude of incidents.
“That’s what I have to worry about as a black woman today in society,” Bartlett said. “It’s crazy to me how me and my friends have to have our safety threated, have to feel threatened at an institution we got accepted to amongst their requirements. …
“You can’t tell me, make me feel uncomfortable some place I belong to,” she said. “If you at a predominantly white institution by black people … and they trying to make you feel uncomfortable, they trying to shrink you, … all you can do is continue to be you.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the viral video prompted someone to file a formal complaint, and the school launched a joint investigation by its Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and Office of Diversity and Equity.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith told the news site. “We care a lot about the welcoming nature of our campus. It’s really important to us that our students feel safe and secure here.”
The university’s Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell also issued a statement to students and staff urging all to uphold “core community values of respect for individuals, diversity and inclusion.”
“Anything less diminishes all of us,” Colwell said. “Free speech is an important right and value. It is also important to sue that right wisely and respectfully.”