I would like to start off by thanking all of the staff and faculty who compose the majority of the commission on race, as well as the few students who continually attend and push for change throughout these meetings. I would also like to state that every word and idea I am about to share is my own intellectual and individual opinion and that I do not speak for every black and brown student here at the University.
The town hall held this past Friday was an absolute joke. It was merely an opportunity for the faculty and staff in this commission to try and “appease” the rowdy and annoying kids from Douglass Leadership House (DLH).
After protesting and listing demands it seems that the University has responded with their usual passing of responsibility. Instead of immediately acting on the demands and more effectively making immediate changes, the President initially sent out a “sorry they were mean” email instead of addressing the real matter here, which is racism. For those students who are content with our current university community (or who don’t have the time/care), I will summarize it for you:
There’s potentially one new faculty member of color; President Seligman spoke. Shook my housemate’s hand and said she or any other student shouldn’t be feel unsafe; DLH will not be permanent; we won’t give more funding to cultural clubs. Instead, there will be a grant for these clubs for which they can all apply; no, the Office of Minority Students Affairs (minority students’ largest supporter) will not have its own space, so when you have a problem, go cry in front of the study abroad counselors, too; we’re not creating new African American studies courses, but we are going to see how many other courses can be considered African American studies; we couldn’t find a Latino or Latina student to add to the Commission on Race; we made cool CARE posters, but they’re for bias-related incidents; did we mention that we started the bias reports (after two years)?
Now that you’ve been caught up on all the action from the lovely town hall meeting, I can tell you how it makes me feel. You see, so many people will never understand what it means to be minority, or even to live in DLH. I don’t wish it upon anyone. The stress of fearing for your life and at the same time wanting to be successful just doesn’t add up. Racism isn’t always someone displaying a confederate flag (oh wait… that already happened) or someone praising slavery (…that happened too). It’s your peers saying Yik Yak is okay even when it puts your life in danger. It’s your potential employer asking to see your social security number twice. It’s your white peers telling you to be quiet so they can study when you’re protesting for your life. Racism is multiple students pleading our administrators and peers for change but being silenced through more town hall meetings that question their validity. After reading this, I may seem like another angry student. The truth is, I could spin this in so many different more academic and formal ways, but there is no point in complicating a subject that is so simple. More importantly, I am tired.
If you are reading this, I encourage you to come to my house and learn more about us. If you’re a white student, I encourage you to attend more events by different cultural organizations and showing up to more town hall meetings because your presence and privilege can create more rapid change.
P.S. Hold up wait a minute…-MM