The Collegian
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

After blackface, hoping for change

I am hopeful.

A few weeks ago I read an article in The Collegian that someone wrote about the magic of 'Crankin dat' soulja boy,' a song played at an apartment party that managed to bring people of all races together for four minutes of laughing, dancing and "Superman-ing."

I was there for that party, and to find that other people had noticed that moment of brief but fantastic unity truly made me feel as though we were making progress for the race relations of this campus.

I am hopeful.

Last week I went to a SALSA event in the Alice Haynes Room, thinking it would probably solely consist of students of Spanish or Latino descent. To my joyful surprise, there were people from all sorts of cultural and ethnic backgrounds enjoying themselves while learning about my culture, as well as others like me.

I am hopeful. But sometimes, my hope is deterred.

On Saturday night, I helped host a party at the apartments for my friend's 21st birthday. I stepped outside for a moment because, as I am sure that many of you can relate, it was at least 1,000 degrees inside. Some fresh air was warranted. But upon stepping outside, I found myself watching a Caucasian student walk by - a male dressed in dreadlocks, his face painted black and his lips painted pink in an exaggerated manner.

The image was immediately clear to me. It was an image of blackface — an image of discrimination and racism. An image of hate.

I am aware that our campus has many initiatives to try to bring unity and understanding, to end discrimination and hate and to build one strong campus where we can all feel safe and respected. But in order for these things to truly take effect, it has to start from within each and every single one us. I urge all of you to take your own active stance against this kind of inappropriate and hurtful behavior.

If ignorance is truly the issue, then please, become educated! Stop by a Black Student Alliance meeting, go talk with the Multicultural Student Union, go to a Spanish and Latino Student Association event, meet with New Directions, take part in the Allies Institute. Do something! Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

I believe that we can all be that change for this university, and for that, I am still and will always be, hopeful.

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