Columnist calls for change, confronts racism on campus

By: Kwynn Townsend-Riley – Columnist, Junior

Dear White people,

Greetings my lighter-hued counterparts. It is I, your token African-American expert on all things “ratchet,” connoisseur of Beyonce and chicken, your favorite homegirl during diversity workshops. I don’t know where to start. Should it be the Yik Yaks during the die-in, or the fact that students believe we live in a post-racist society and are colorblind?

Remember, during the protests on campus last semester, how many of the offensive Yik Yak posts were threats toward students of color?

We must remember that there is still a lot to change on this campus. A week of protests brought some awareness, but did not spur true change.

That true change is coming though, I promise. We’ve just got to work on it together.

However, as Black History Month arrives, I wanted to give you examples of the micro-aggressions, “triggers,” I have experienced on campus. Perhaps you know someone who does this, perhaps you don’t. The fact is that these situations exist. Students said these things to my face. Unfortunately, since I am not white, or your “friendly neighbor,” you may dislike me after you read this letter. Racism is on this campus.

Racism occurs when African-American students are referred to as “ratchet.” It appears when students on this campus recognize Nelson Mandela as a man who supported abortion more than his time as the first black president of South Africa. Racism occurs when you ask an African-American student to teach you how to twerk, about their hair, or call us sassy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am no longer accepting ignorance. The “Oh, I didn’t know calling your hair crazy was a trigger for you.” For decades, African-American women have been ostracized for our different hair texture. We have been marginalized and stereotyped for the versatility of our hair.

This stuff makes me sick.

When black students get together, it seems like we are seen as more radical than the St. Patrick’s Day revelers of 2013. When we have parties on campus, ours get shut down permanently. For example, my friends’ party this past week was moderate. There were some people on the porch and music. The party was shut down. The party at the house next to us was also confronted. The house had more people, louder music and was able to continue their party with a warning. There have been a slew of incidents that occur daily regarding the marginalization of African-American students.

When we have a protest, so many students walk by and do not participate.

White privilege exists. Racism exists.

This is the first year that I see bulletin boards about Black History Month from RA’s. This is the first time that housing is enforcing bulletin boards about black history be made. It is so refreshing to receive support. I am so grateful when I see the pictures, flyers and tables within Kennedy Union referencing the month as well.

I am frustrated still, very much so, that most of you still don’t get it. I do not want your pity. I want meetings. I want change. I need President Curran to say before I graduate that black lives matter.

I want an apology from the Office of Advancement for prioritizing alumni funds over black history. Placing a fundraiser during the month of black history limits students once again from gaining the knowledge needed to eliminate the covert racism that occurs.

I want an apology. An apology and action.

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

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