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When I wrote a story about racism

Sports is one of the areas that helps people get over the stigma of racism. This photo was taken at Lantz Arena at Eastern Illinois University. Photo by Kevin Kenealy.

When I was at Eastern Illinois University, a link to a white supremacy website ran online in a Daily Eastern News opinion piece. It must have either found its way in there by mistake or intentionally as a link to avoid. Understandably, the campus' black community erupted in backlash to the paper, calling for a boycott of it and a public apology. We publicly apologized and held a forum to address all questions from the minority community.

I, like the rest of the staff on the paper, were so frustrated by the whole scenario, that I set out to create a "Looking at Racism" at Eastern project for the paper's online site. I built the site, complete with interviews of students, newspaper staff, athletes, student leaders, professors, and school administration. I asked them to share stories about racism they've encountered, about what can be done to lessen racism on campus, and about what their definition of racism is.

The project was just as beneficial for me as it was for them. I was left with handshakes, smiles, and thank yous after I completed interviews and people saw what I was out to do. It was one of the most rewarding pieces of journalism that I compiled in my life.

In this awful time when we both mourn for George Floyd's horrific death and hope that the violent aftermath comes to an end, what we need more than ever is peace. Police brutality needs to stop. The violence upon our cities and towns likewise needs to stop. We need to use our words and not our fists. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

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