In the wake of the news that the perpetrator of the racist actions on campus was a student of color, I feel the need to acknowledge not only that fact, but the fact that the stance of the publication is wholly unchanged.
Racism, in any form, is something to be condemned. If I knew the information I know now about the perpetrator being a student of color when information was published on the site, that wouldn’t change a thing. What that student did was wrong – regardless of the color of their skin.
The fact that it was a student of color who was behind the malice on campus doesn’t change the fact that we have a problem. Isn’t the fact that we so blindly believed the perpetrator to be white an issue in and of itself? This isn’t a problem because it’s “unfair to white people” or any of the claims like that that I’ve seen surface the internet. The reason we believed it is simply because it’s believable – that’s the problem.
To this point, I would like to say that, prior to knowing the identity of the person behind these actions, while the Albion community responded to said actions by condemning racism, we never once explicitly stated that the perpetrator was white. We stood up against racism. We said white privilege was wrong. But these are facts that are true with or without the qualification of the person behind the actions being white.
Neither the publication nor the administration spread fake news by neglecting to point out that the perpetrator was a student of color – that was information we didn’t have when news began circulating. Instead, we didn’t identify the race. We didn’t identify the person’s pronouns. Any and all assumptions made about the person’s identity were made on an individual basis. Ask yourself: Did the news you read tell you that the perpetrator was white before the truth was unveiled? Or did your instinct tell you this?
Speaking for myself, it was my instinct, and I know this to be true of many others.
Our instinct told us that if anyone was to spread such hate and discrimination on campus, it had to be a white person. And it makes sense. White people have a history of spreading hate and continue to do so in order to assert superiority. Therein lies the problem.
As a white person, I see the fact that the history of my race has set us up for this instinct, and our continued actions in modern day society lead us to continue it. When hate is spread, we assume it’s a white person. Regardless of what the truth ends up being, before we know the truth, this is the most fair of assumptions.
White privilege is an issue. I stand by that. I will always stand by that.
Before, during and after the identity of the perpetrator was found, it was Black students and Jewish students on campus who felt unsafe – not white. This is privilege.
White students on campus don’t fall victim to worrying about being hated on for the color of our skin. This is privilege.
This is privilege that exists regardless of who was behind the recent actions on campus.
Before you ask yourself why we didn’t think the student behind these actions was a student of color, ask yourself why we automatically assumed it was a white person. For that, the blame falls back on white people for the narrative we have formed throughout history. The vast majority of racism is perpetrated and carried out by white people – we are the majority. Mathematically, it makes sense. And historically, it makes sense.
The Pleiad, and myself, stands by our statements earlier this week. I stand by the decision to save space for Black voices and the voices of those most deeply impacted on Wednesday. I stand by every word we put out earlier this week. Regardless of who instilled such fear upon campus, there is still work to be done on our campus, in our country and in the world. Equality does not exist if we cannot all live without fear.
Earlier this week, we saw only some of our campus community wracked with fear at comments made toward them. That proves to me, again regardless of who was behind the actions, that we have work to do. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe at all times. If only some of us have that right violated and only some of us have that right protected, we do not have full equality.
We came together as one Albion this week. Regardless of what people on the outside want to say about our institution, my publication or the state of the world, I’m proud of all of my Albion peers for how we handled things in the midst of information we did not yet know. We fought for equality. That is something to be commended. If anyone has qualms about that, that’s a fight they should take up in their own heart.
Everyone who asks if I would change how things were handled if I knew then what I know now, my simple answer is no. There’s a reason I didn’t know that information at that point in time. There’s a reason why things had to transpire the way they did. In my mind, that reason is awareness – that racism is a pertinent threat and we always assume that threat is made on behalf of a white person.
White people, myself included, this was a call to us to do better so that people have no reason to make that assumption of us. There is change to be made in society, and that first comes with change within ourselves. This issue, in my mind, did not undermine the idea that our privilege is part of the problem, but rather solidified it.