#DearWhitePeople, please stop hiding your racial indifference behind a veil of anonymity.
Despite this veil of anonymity, racism and racial indifference at the University of Richmond was incredibly visible with a wave of extremely repulsive Yik Yak posts in late February.
I was absolutely disgusted seeing such ignorance, hatred and insensitivity on the University of Richmond Yik Yak feed.
Among the first posts included “Blacks are retarded” as well as “Stupid n!ggers thinking that rap is music.”
I recognize that the Richmond feed covers areas just outside of our campus. However, it would be naïve to think that this campus would be immune to the perpetual racism that has plagued this country since its inception.
The most unnerving part was not the initial posts that explicitly expressed hatred but the ensuing posts, which suffocated the secluded voices of the historically voiceless. The ensuing posts and comments were pervaded with a level of detachment and apathy eerily reminiscent of bystanders watching (and recording) someone being strangled to death.
In response to the initial posts, several students asked whoever was making the comments to stop. These initial pleas were only met with more racist and disrespectful comments.
When these requests went unheeded, certain students began to use #DearWhitePeople referring to the 2014 movie about racial tensions within an Ivy League school. These posts appeared to make many students upset because they felt as if blacks were fighting fire with fire and using racism to combat racism.
#DearWhitePeople, picture yourself in a sea of blackness. Imagine only seeing another white person far away, and whenever you see someone white they are either drowning or struggling to stay afloat. This is because white people cannot swim of course. Those that can swim have an anchor attached to them underneath the surface that constantly tries to bring them under. Since you are a strong swimmer (or have enough money to pay for swim lessons) you stay afloat and continually swim forward until you see land. As you swim forward, you see white people drown and suffer. As you get closer to land and you swim harder and faster, the anchor pulls you down harder. You cry out for help but no one listens. You turn around, back toward the land, and ask white people for help. They understand your plight, they sympathize with your struggle but they cannot help you because they are struggling to stay afloat. You turn, face the land again, trudge onward, and come within mere inches of land. You reach out and then it disappears, dissolving into another sea of blackness. What you thought was land was only an illusion, it does not exist.
#DearWhitePeople is not targeted at any particular person. #DearWhitePeople is targeted at the “sea of whiteness” which has deliberately and systemically oppressed, segregated and dehumanized minorities in America. I know that you do not support these racist ideologies, #WhitePeople, but until you recognize that they still exist and that our country’s political, economic and social institutions were founded upon the maintenance of these ideologies, you are only adding to the problem.
Until you, #WhitePeople, recognize that combating a group that has faced opposition since they were brought here in slave boats will only lead to more tension, you are adding to the problem. Until you understand, #WhitePeople, that your lack of understanding of our struggles as a race warrants you no authority to pass judgement about our reaction to adversity which you will never face, you are only adding to the problem.
#DearWhitePeople I am not attacking you. I do not have the power nor the numbers to do so, which you have strictly preserved. I do not want to take away any of your rights or freedoms in order to gain higher status. I want to promote awareness and understanding. I want to be able to voice opinions without being undermined and ignored. I want tolerance and respect. Ultimately, I want to advocate that despite 400 years of racism, black lives matter.