The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 24, 1997, Page 5, Image 5

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    Road to acceptance
Hope for future maintainedcompany of shadows
KASEYMRMIR is a junior
news-egHprial major and a
Daily iQgoraskan columnist.
I found something in high school once.
To most people, it was a few tattered
pieces of paper destined for a gust of wind
or a wastepaper basket.
But to me it was the epitome of what
was, what is, and what continues to be, my
It’s a single sentence, scratched onto a
piece of notebook paper. It says, simply:
“You will find a way.”
I don’t know who wrote it or even where
I found it. Yet I’ve held onto that scrap of
paper for years, never willing to let go of
the phrase until its meaning became clear.
As time went by, I left my home state of
Florida to come to Nebraska, leaving every
thing I knew for what I could never expect.
Still the phrase followed me, baiting me
with its words.
When I left Florida, I left a shadow, a
shadow of someone else. I didn’t like what I
had become in the 18 years of life - a guy
who never had the friends, the grades or the
breaks. My only date was for the prom, and
my only reputation was one of silence.
Yet, I was the guy everyone - you -
came to talk to. The guy who listened to
your problems no matter how bad they
seemed. I was reserved and, therefore, I
must have been a good listener. It seemed
that a nod or smile from me was all you
needed to feel better. 1 ;
Then I came to Nebraska, hoping for a
different life. One in which my voice would
sfirsa single sentence, scratched onto a piece of
notebook paper. It says, simply: ‘You will find a
y yy
finally become my guide. And for a while,
it was. I became a columnist as a freshman,
and began a steady relationship that same
But as a friend once told me, “disaster
strikes quickly.” After nearly two years, I
lost the regular columnist slot, and my
girlfriend left me. Once again I found the
shadow - if not that, the shadow found
The questions returned: “What have you
become? And what has it accomplished?”
I’ve answered those questions, slowly.
I changed only slightly from high
school, never compromising my silence
entirely. I became more vocal, but I never
lost sight of the ability to listen when it real
ly mattered.
I remained what most people call the
stereotypical “nice guy.” I’m still a little
quiet, still a tad bit intellectual, still a hard
worker, and still creative enough to be mis
And I held onto these attributes without
a second thought, even as I watched my
columnist position and my 18-month rela
tionship end.
As a writer, I pushed the limits of hard
work - tackling big issues no one expected
me to complete. Whether it was sexuality,
or banning cigarette sales in the union, it
didn’t matter to me. I soon learned that peo
ple didn’t want the big issues, the intellectu
al spin or the controversy. They wanted me
to crack jokes again. And when I didn’t -
they lost faith in me.
And in my relationship, I tried too hard
to be creative and devoted. There were *"
dozens of poems, thousands of sweet words
and promises about the future. I did every
thing girls want a guy to do - everything the
other guys never seemed to do. Yet in the
end I was there with my shadow, finding lit
tle comfort when my ex said I did nothing
I tried too hard, I told myself. I was too
nice, and I just tried too hard.
But was it possible to try too hard? Or to
be too nice?
These are the questions I must ask you,
the reader, for I am not alone. There are oth
ers like me trying their hardest, yet living in
the shadows of their own defeat. There are
others who are not given the time of day for
the way they look, the place in which they
live, or the people they know.
They are nice guys and girls who
haven’t been given a chance. They’re often
like me, blaming themselves when life
hands them salt, all the while shrugging off
sugar like it is merely a few grains falling
through a temporary hourglass of happi
Others should give them the chance -
whether it be the chance to love, participate
or just share.
I’m tired of living in a shadow. I’ve
never done anything wrong to be in it.
Yet, like the scrap of paper tacked to my
wall, I know I’ll “find the way.”
Until then I hold onto my personality,
intellect and creativity. One day, there will
be a girl who will love me and the way I use
my talents to show her I love her. One day
my writing will carry me beyond others’
cdoubts. i
One day will surely come.
... And then I shall find my way.
Heartfelt prayers
Principal, mentor once gave, now receives love
GREGG MADSEN is a senior
news-editorial major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist.
I’ve known him for 15 of my 22 years of
life, and to his face, I’ve never called Randy
Pierce by his first name.
In my mind, he’s been “Mr. Pierce”
since I first met him. He was my high
school principal - as well as my track and
basketball coach. Through each athletic
season ami each school year, I gained more
respect for Mr. Pierce. He was strict, always
watching for a stujdept who might be screw
ing around, or as he caifl^it, “dummying
up.” He was kind, never failing Jo praise a
student for a good grade or any othgr
accomplishment. Mr. Pierce demanded the
best from every student in his school and*'*1
every athlete he coached.
But my relationship with Mr. Pierce
goes deeper than school and sports. One of
my best friends, Ryan, is his son, so Mr.
Pierce and I go way back - all the way back
to sleepovers in sixth grade and little league
baseball when I was 7.
In high school, Ryan and I went through
four years of track with his dad - Mr. Pierce
- constantly pushing and prodding us to
run, jump and practice our way to the state
track meet. The coming of each spring
meant fresh air, birds singing, new leaves
on me trees ... and an unmistakable desire
to physically harm Mr. Pierce for his gruel
ing afternoon workouts. He was as strict a
coach as he was a principal, but he loved his
athletes just as he loved his students.
All those years, he was Mr. Pierce to
me. When I graduated from high school, I
suppose I received an unwritten permission
slip to call him by his first name, but for
some reason it just didn’t seem right.
Maybe I don’t want to let go of high school.
Maybe I just have too much respect for him.
Now, four short years after he last told
me to pick up the pace in an 800 meter run,
Mr. Pierce is in his house on the west end of
Maxwell, fighting a life-threatening brain
tumor in his forehead. A definite prognosis
cannot be made until doctors determine the
effectiveness of a new drug treatment pro
gram, but it’s safe to say Mr. Pierce needs a
Several questions come into my mind:
What can I do? How can I help? What
should my response be to this heartbreaking
My concerns seem trivial when I con
sider what Ryan and his brother, T.J., are
going through as they watch their father
battle the effects of the tumor and the med
ication trying to eliminate it. The walls of
their lives are crumbling around them, their
only hope lying in the power of the doctors’
new treatment program.
I’ll venture to say we’ve all been in sim
ilar situations. WeH« all had a situation in
our lives that seems resolvable, unbearable
or impossible. In these times that are so
hard to explain and that seem so unfair,
what can we do? What response can we as
human beings have when things are so dark
we cannot see the light at the end of the tun
Our list of possible responses is as long
as the list ot possible causes ot distress. We
try therapy, denial, escapism and so many
other ways to ease life-altering situations.
What can I do about Mr. Pierce? How
should I react?
I’m praying.
That’s right. I’m praying. Scoff all you
like, but that is my charted course of action.
I’m not going to go into a theological dis
sertation of prayer or try to force any view
points on you. I’m just passing on insight
on how to deal with life when every ounce
of hope is gone, and for that matter, in every
All through Mr. Pierce’s battle with this
tumor, I’ve been praying for him. I’ve been
praying for Ryan and for T.J. I know that my
prayers are being - and will be - heard.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the answer
will be the one I’m looking for, but I know I
have laid all my concerns at the throne of
one mightier than any other force - defi
nitely stronger than any tumor - in this
All through my life, Mr. Pierce taught
me to fight through the most adverse cir
cumstances. All through my life, my respect
for Mr. Pierce has overshadowed my love
for him. I’ve never been able to call him by
his first name because I thought it would
show a lack of respect.
By praying for him, I feel like I’ve
grown closer to Mr. Pierce than I ever was
in high school. I have realized through
prayer that my respect for Mr. Pierce is
still very much alive. But now, it’s clear to
me that the respect that drove me to call
him Mr. Pierce for all these years has
been deeply rooted in another feeling:
Randy, I love you and I respect you.
Don’t you dare lose hope. I’m praying for
r- i t
Stats show facts
MIKE DONLEY is a junior philos
ophy major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
We’ve all seen about a million movies fea
turing African American actors seemingly
preaching, questioning, “Why is the white man
targeting the young black male, trying to keep
us down?!”
A lot of these angry remarks seemed to be
in reference to drug enforcement activities. So,
secure with the knowledge that white America
could not be committing these heinous crimes, I
packed a pen and some paper, jumped on my
motorcycle and headed down to the university
library for a little research.
Surprise, surprise! Guess what I found.
Contrary to popular opinion, I found that
people who argue current drug enforcement
activities result in racial discrimination have a
strong point.
Most whites would not be surprised to hear
mat DiacKs are more likely to use drugs than
whites. But in reality, the opposite is true. The
percentage of white people who use drugs is
higher than the corresponding statistic for
Now ask yourself: Why is it that blacks are
four times as likely to be arrested for a drug
offense? Keep in mind that in predominantly
white areas (such as the Midwest) the ratio dou
bles to 8-to-1. How could this be?
A large measure of this inequality can be
seen in the case of crack cocaine. More white
people than minorities use crack; however, over
95 percent of defendants in federal court cases
involving crack cocaine are not white. This
doesn’t seem logical, does it?
The charges themselves are not the only
problem. Picture yourself in front of a federal
judge on a cocaine charge. Would you rather
have been caught with $200 worth of powdered
cocaine or $30 worth of crack? Unless you like
the thought of a federal prison in your near
future, you would much prefer the charge for
powdered cocaine.
A cheap drug (or so-called ghetto drug) like
crack carries with it a penalty that is, on average,
10 times harsher than a more expensive version
of the exact same drug, powdered cocaine.
We may say that this is not necessarily racial
discrimination. Though minorities are more
likely to be poor, the charge would be the same
for a white person as it would be for a minority.
Maybe white America is not discriminating
after all. Unfortunately, one more statistic is
worthy of mention. Picture yourself, once
again, in front of that federal judge. If you are
white, you are more likely to be sent to manda
tory renaomtation. it you are a minority, jail is
more likely.
It seems if we look at the evidence impar
tially, there is a problem with racial discrimina
tion in drug enforcement activities. Part of the
blame must fall on law enforcement. The
stereotypes our society holds regarding African
Americans and other minorities as criminals
cannot work toward a minority’s advantage
when he or she comes in contact with a law
enforcement officer.
Police, on average, are not well trained in
psychology and social theory (no offense to our
superb criminal justice department), so average
officers probably would not even notice when
their personal prejudices were effecting their
judgment. The same goes forjudges, social
workers, and the average citken.
So, what can be done? Of course we all
know we can try our hardest to treat each new
person we meet equally, that’s common sense.
Law enforcement can have “sensitivity train
ing,” which I’m sure they would enjoy.
But, in the end, the minority community
needs a change of reputation. Gangster rap and
bad movies called “booty call” do not help. A
college education and a family that sticks
together do.