why I kneel…

I was asked by one of my professors, to write about the recent racial incidents that have been happening at the University of Michigan. Students had the n word written on their doors, there was a lot of racist writing in public areas, etc. The letter was to our fifth grade pen pals, and I decided I wanted to share it with you all. 


Dear Students,


Hello! My name is Mayah Wheeler and I attend the University of Michigan. Dr. Goldin, my professor, asked me to write to you all about one of the protests that happened this week here at Michigan.

Recently, there has been a lot of hate crimes, crimes that are committed because of racial, sexual or other prejudices, at Michigan. Hate crimes are normally violent, but here at Michigan, they have been non-violent. Since school started, on September 5th, there have been more than three hate crimes. That’s a lot, especially in such a short period of time. People have even written racial slurs, mean names used about people of a racial group, on people’s doors. It’s been crazy here at Michigan and honestly, it has scared me. The hate crimes this year have been directed towards Black and Latino students, whom together only make up 8% of the study body at Michigan.

The sad part is, the University of Michigan hasn’t punished the people that do these mean things to other students. You’re probably thinking- “Why not? The people writing the mean things are bullying students and bullying is wrong.” Sadly, I don’t know why they didn’t get in trouble. But because they didn’t get in trouble, some students have decided to protest. The protestors think that if they protest peacefully, maybe the President of the University will listen and punish the bullies. One of the people whom led a protest at Michigan this week is named Dana Greene Jr. Dana is a graduate student here and decided to kneel in front of the flag, to protest all the bullying that has gone on while he has attended Michigan. In his letter, which was passed out around campus, Dana talks about how he was watched people commit hate crimes against Black, Latino, Muslim, and immigrant students within the last five years. Dana says that he kneeled because he was tired of doing nothing and hoping that things would get better. I think what Dana meant was that after the hate crimes students, that are the victims of these crimes, hope that people will understand that they’re hurting other people and stop. Dana wanted to kneel until the President of the University would meet with him, but the President never came to talk to him.

I think Dana was right to protest. He protested to draw attention to all the hate crimes that have happened on the campus and was trying to make a positive difference. I hope that when you all read this letter, you understand that not all people here are bullies. But a lot of people here are being bystanders. And as I’m sure you all know, bystanders help the bullies. I challenge you all to be the ones who protest- stand up for what you think is right, treat people the way you want to be treated and be kind with your words. We all can make a difference and work towards making sure all students are treated with respect.


If you guys have any questions, write me back and I’ll make sure to answer anything you want to know!



Mayah N. Wheeler


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