Valdosta State and the black community need unity, not division

Dr. King once said, “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” With the recent events on the Valdosta State University campus, it is important to remember it is always better to love than to hate.

Eric Sheppard, a student at Valdosta State and a member of the New Black Panther Party, has instilled much fear in our community with his tactics to revolutionize the Civil Rights Movement and make current-day members of white society pay for the sins of their ancestors.

"I am a terrorist toward lies. I'm a terrorist toward liars. I'm a terrorist toward those that are wicked, so yes, I am a terrorist toward white people,” Sheppard told the media shortly before he went into hiding after his gun was found in an unattended backpack on campus.

During an April 17th protest, Sheppard demonized religion—both Christianity and Islam—and walked on the American flag to inform the Valdosta community that blacks are still not granted the same opportunities because of “white privilege” and white supremacy.

Not only did Sheppard completely disregard the progress that African-Americans have made in America and disrespect the flag in the process, he made the claim that Christianity was forced upon African slaves.

As a student at Valdosta State University, Sheppard’s comments and actions infuriated me. His comments are the epitome of what is wrong in America—particularly in the black community.

And as a Christian, I was even more offended because my faith has always been my choice; it’s belittling for one to assume it’s something that has been forced on me.

In addition to Sheppard’s false points about religion, his social media presence shows disturbing radicalism.

In a photo posted to Instagram, Sheppard poses alongside two of his peers holding guns, with hashtags “#Revenge,” “#AssaultonAllCrackkkaz,” “#FuckHowTheCrakkkaFeel,” and “#TheyTookYoShitNowTakeItBack.”

People like Sheppard harm the black community. They play into false stereotypes and seek to destroy civilized communities instead of building them up. 

Not only does Sheppard put the black community at a disadvantage, but he encourages divisiveness. America needs unity now more than ever, but instead of working together to fight whatever injustice Sheppard felt black people are enduring, he has pitted people against one another.

The thing is, Sheppard had every right to stomp on our flag. That’s the beauty of the flag, the freedoms it—and this country—exemplify.

As seen by the recent counter-protest on campus, where students from all walks of life gathered to uplift the American flag and the freedoms it represents, we need unity on our campus and in our community now more than ever.

Our freedoms should bring us together as a campus, as a community, but Sheppard using his freedom to spew hate will only tear us further apart.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @nikicole19