Institutions of higher education aren’t always welcoming of communities of color, and a recent incident at Duke University served as a reminder of how these spaces can be hostile to Latinos and others. A day after Latino students painted a mural for Latinx Heritage Month, someone had defaced it.
An unknown individual (or individuals) scribbled over the mural, located on the East Campus free expression bridge, with black spray paint. On Friday, Mi Gente, the school’s Latinx student organization, held an event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to paint the mural. The next day by 4 p.m., it had been vandalized.
Mi Gente released a statement to denounce the “intentional act.” “At this time, we do not know who or why anyone would commit this act, but we want to let them know that this incident will not divide our community,” the message reads. “It saddens us to say that this is not the first time that an act of hate has happened on Duke’s campus. This incident is just another one of many that have happened, but have received no justice. It’s a reminder to us all that more work needs to be done to stop xenophobic incidents like this from happening again.”
The organization then invited people to meet at the bridge to figure out what they should do next. By Saturday night, the group decided to send a new message. Instead of painting over the hate, they wrote new words over the graffiti: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”