note: usually I don’t engage in race discussions on Facebook, but I had to. Really. I had to. The context: Someone chalked, “White Ain’t Right” and “F*ck Whitey” on a campus space. I said that perhaps we should organize a therapy session for white students who feel uncomfortable. Her feathers were ruffled.
Another note: A bias-related incident is what is reported by the Deans of all of the colleges when something racist, sexist, or homophobic occurs on campus.
I believe we are trying to have difficult conversations about the discomfort of a white student, but your response, Antoinette, was one that I interpreted as both disparaging and belittling. As a white student who is earnestly and seriously trying to learn about this issue and forward my thinking, it is quite frustrating to get a response that is in the form of a mocking joke. If you wanted to “point out the complications of…” then I ask that you do so with a more respectful tone. Otherwise, I am bound to feel even more awkward about asking these types of questions and give up my attempts at understanding. I can see why comments such as “White Ain’t Right” might be interpreted in a hostile and uncomfortable way when a student doesn’t know the context of the chalkings as a critique, and I recognize that you believe that white students never think about their identities (or perhaps lack thereof). However, I am constantly aware of my identity as a white student on this campus, perhaps because of my desire to engage in this type of dialogue. I don’t think lumping a group of people together based on their race is fair or effective, and I really hope that we—as commenters and a Facebook audience of “likers” (for lack of a better term)—can move beyond race so that I can actually learn about why this incident shouldn’t be labeled as “bias-related.” (a) I don’t think many people think of bias-related incidents as a joke (although I’m sure that yes, some do… probably both students of color and white students), especially when they relate to students of color, and many people often find them extremely offensive and disrespectful. At least my closest friends (many of whom are white) are often engaged in conversations about what is happening in terms of bias on this campus, and it’s never a joke. (b) No one is arguing that reverse racism exists. I recognize that whites as a race have never been historically oppressed, so the concept of “racism” is inappropriate, but I don’t think that means that white students can’t feel uncomfortable on this campus because of certain types of racial discourse. Obviously they can.
A respectful tone is one that is often expected from students of color who have to consistently dialogue about race and racial issues. Your comment is condescending. We will not always be respectful when we are angry. We will not always be respectful when we feel marginalized. And we will choose to mock when we realize that you become the anomaly (i.e. one of few white students who seem proud to understand the context under which your whiteness operates). As a person of color, I should not congratulate you for this and as ally, you should not expect it. But instead I say, yes, you understand whiteness. Now do you understand the power dynamic you still are complicit in? Do you understand the ways in which people of color are often called upon to explain, discuss, make valid discussions of race/racism, especially in academic (read: respectful tones) so that white people can get it?
Moving beyond race is not going to happen in the context of facebook, and trust me, I do not make comments such as these for “likes”. I suppose I should give you some credit for being a forward thinking and aware white person. But you are critically engaging a person of color to tell me what you and your white friends think about my lived experience on this campus. My lived experience tells me that bias related incidents have been treated as a joke. My lived experience tells me that most white students are completely unaware of “whiteness”, hostile to people of color who point out their privilege, and quick to argue for multiculturalist, “let’s all get along” “forget about racism/race” ” why can’t we all just be happy” types of dialogues without realizing why it is that people of color can’t “just” do any of those things. Moving “beyond race” is not going to help you realize why this shouldn’t be labeled as a bias related incident. It is fully understanding race and privilege and power dynamics that will lead to the discussion, and perhaps, you will not agree at the end of that discussion and you have that right to. Because, “Fuck whitey” as an offensive comment will not challenge a white student’s existence on these campuses, as much as other factors that consistently make it difficult for students of color (and queer students) to exist and thrive here.
God, I love this.@1 year ago with 36 notes