By: Bobby Beebe – Senior, English
If ignorance is a condition diagnosed by a lack of information, then education is its cure. This condition only becomes a problem when the diagnosed refuse to swallow the pill. Willful ignorance comes from one’s desire to stay comfortable. It comes from a refusal of responsibility. It comes from laziness.
In his response to two Flyer News columns, which pointed out instances of racism on the University of Dayton’s campus, Chris Zimmer has been willfully ignorant.
Zimmer refers to racism on this campus as a “myth,” despite the countless examples of racism given to him in the articles by Grace Wolford and Kwynn Townsend-Riley. He combats Wolford’s point that Yik Yak has served as a platform for racism on campus, writing, “For all we know African-Americans could have been posting on it to make white students look bad.”
Really? Is it easier to believe that black students would pose as white students just to make them look bad than it is to believe that a few students here at UD might be racist?
When responding to Townsend-Riley’s anecdote of a time she felt racially profiled on campus, Zimmer states, “I don’t doubt her account of a conflict with another student, but don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.”
This is where things get especially mixed up. People do not like to feel blame. The result of such distaste can be a defensive and egotistical response.
God forbid someone dare question the integrity of us Catholic-praying, door-holding, social-justice-loving Flyers. We host Christmas on Campus every year (calm down, I’m just being cute). In his article, Zimmer asks Wolford and Townsend-Riley, “Please don’t hurt our reputation with accusations of racism or discrimination,” implying that these articles were an attack on the good name of UD.
Those articles had nothing to do with UD’s reputation. With racism, the last thing that should be considered is the university’s image. The focus should be on perpetrators of racism on campus and the presence of racism in our society as a whole.. It is unbelievable that when exposed to real-life racism, the response is to save face instead of to reach out to make our campus safer.
Zimmer ends the article with a couple questions and answers. It only seems appropriate that I give mine as well.
“Do we really need full student participation and support in protests to show we care about stopping the injustice concerning minorities?”
I guess we don’t need every student to participate in and support protests to show we care. The university certainly won’t cease to exist, our attendance numbers won’t suffer and the community will carry on as it has. But should we be aiming for stagnancy?
We need full support of the student body to really make UD a community that provides everyone with equal opportunities. To sit and wait is to be willfully ignorant. With issues like this, our only option is to act. Act through protest, through education or even through cutting some words out of your vocabulary. It is time for us as a community to realize that taking responsibility is not the same as taking blame, and that taking blame is not as bad as bearing the brunt of racism.
“Do we really need bulletin boards to get our black history knowledge?”
Is black history American history? Absolutely. Do I agree that black history should be recognized and celebrated constantly? Absolutely. Do I think that those two points are at all arguments against the existence of Black History Month? Absolutely not. Black History Month is a month to specifically reflect on the trials that black people have faced in this country and to celebrate people in that community who took action and made change. It doesn’t mean that we are only recognizing black history once a year, but rather we are especially encouraged and reminded to reflect on the lives of people who helped advance equality in this country.
“Do the UD police immediately need to start assuming every black person they see is a student?”
Intentionally or not, this question assumes that a black person on the UD campus that does not go to UD is a threat to public safety. Here lies the problem with calling racism on campus a myth. This question itself is racially charged.
I did not write this column to point out ways in which racism exists on this campus. I believe Wolford and Townsend-Riley have already done a sufficient job at that. I wrote this column to point out the ways in which racism is ignored and disregarded on this campus, despite its reality. Being ignorant is not a punishable attribute, but allowing ignorance to exist and willfully ignoring reality are. More than anything on this campus, what we need are articles like Wolford’s and Townsend-Riley’s – articles that point out injustice, articles that call to action and articles that combat ignorance.