By Brandon Walker
Late on Friday October 21st, my two friends and I were walking back from the IBC after a fun night of basketball. As we went outside into the dark night, however, our good time was quickly interrupted with loud screams and abrupt shouts. We were shocked to see huge crowds of teens fighting amongst themselves and acting hostile. More surprisingly, it stunned us to see some of them running away from the police, pouring into the streets that I was reluctant to cross. Yes, I must confirm, this was the same night that chaos broke loose on campus.
Even though we received the TU alert that “large groups of juveniles” were on Broad Street before we left, it seemed that nothing could prepare us for this. Hesitant to head back, we wondered if it was safe to walk down the street flooded with these mobs of kids in our way. I mean, we didn’t know what might have happened to us. We didn’t know students were being assaulted.
Not long after, we concluded that we should still go because we couldn’t really gauge how long they were going to lurk around for. And plus, we were fairly strong, capable guys that could hold our own. There were three of us; we had each other’s backs.
There was no avoiding them either. At least from what I could tell, there was about one hundred unfamiliar kids and teens roaming Temple. Avoiding eye contact, we tried to pass the crowds as quickly as possible so playing it safe seemed to be the best bet. They were rough kids, as you could imagine. If we looked at them “the wrong the way,” something rash could have happened. You know.
Fortunately for us, the turmoil subsided a little by the time we finally got on North Broad Street. Feeling hungry, we were now off to Wendy’s not too far from the corner we were on. As we approached, we saw two police officers and what my friend assumed to be the manager of the restaurant all guarding the entrance. But we didn’t pay it any attention. I mean, why would we? We were just three college students who wanted burgers and some fries. Right?
So, we were about to walk in when the manager smiled and blurted something like, “Sorry guys. We’re closed for the night.”
Her smile wasn’t inviting, but rather smug. Condescending, even. I tilted my head, confused.
“Oh okay, I understand,” my friend replied, really not knowing what was happening at all.
Forced to leave, we returned back to the street corner trying to rationalize what just happened, still keeping the Wendy’s in view. How are they closed? There were still people inside, we thought.
Almost immediately after, my heart dropped. I saw a group of white students enter the Wendy’s with no problem. With no halts at the door. With no questions asked.
So let’s put this into context. Why were three black students denied entry into a public restaurant without an explanation? Why were white students automatically given the benefit of the doubt?
Irritated and annoyed, we concluded that the manager and the officers thought we were affiliated with the same group of teens that was fighting earlier just because we looked like them. Just because we were black.
We approached Wendy’s again. This time, we had our Temple IDs out just to prove that we are students. For some reason, the manager seemed to be just as aggravated as us in our return.
Even when I tried explaining to her that we were students, she unwillingly let us in and snickered something along the lines of, “Don’t start any problems tonight, alright? Behave yourselves.”
What was I even doing wrong? Behave myself?
We ignored her and continued to walk in. So why am I “complaining?” We got in anyway, right? That’s not the point. How can a “manager” generalize a race of people? Apparently, a racist one can very easily. The officers next to her were equally as guilty by playing bystander, refusing to investigate further.
Looking back on this, maybe I should have challenged her and called her out right there. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s impossible to argue with ignorance and incompetence, you see.
So, do I want students to boycott the Wendy’s on North Broad and ruin their business for racially profiling black students? Well, not necessarily. I want to dig a little deeper into this issue. This only goes to show that these are the ugly attitudes and truths that some establishments have on campus toward African Americans.
How can Temple be coined a diverse and culturally accepting community when the reality for black students suggests otherwise? I shouldn’t have to wear a Temple hoodie every time I go outside for people to know that I go here. Even in the events of the attacks on campus, some establishments on campus continue to be divisive and bigoted. It’s truly unacceptable.
This is what I want to shed light on. But what would I know? I wouldn’t want to “start any problems.”
Brandon Walker is a freshman university studies major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.