Allegheny College is a place of higher learning, a place for growth and a place for education.
The November 18, 2010 issue of The Campus shocked me.
I was disturbed to read articles written by seemingly educated students that were nonetheless grossly ignorant of the pervasive racism and stereotypes that run deep into American culture, as well as the white privilege which stratifies and solidifies the current hierarchy.
I am one of the few, but proud, African-American males on this campus, a tour guide and a proud member of the Association of the Advancement of Black Culture. I was also a witness to the horrid and vulgar blackface incident which shook me to the core this past Halloween weekend.
“Blackface?! FUCK No!” captures only some of the anger that I had towards the individuals who chose to blacken up during the Halloween weekend.
But reading some of the letters to the editor about how some are “offended” by the t-shirts angered me more.
Horrid Blackface and the sinister N-word are still available for use by our American society. These are tools that are used to oppress me and my people.
Nothing that I have experienced at this liberal arts college that has made me cringe and feel more unwelcome than the blackface incident.
In my mind, the display of anger present in the Association for the Advancement of Black Culture, then, is a gross understatement.
Further, the Campus Center was the PERFECT forum to discuss the racism, prejudice and ignorance that occurred that fateful night.
As long we feel hurt, we can wear our shirts to express our disgust and our First Amendment rights.
“Civility,” whatever that means, is not a cure-all and cannot be applied to situations where racism and prejudices are present.
Some words that come to mind to sum up my frustrations with the Halloween blackface incident that I would love to see put on a t-shirt are: “White Privilege – you have it and that’s why you DON’T understand my hurt!” “You are WHITE and the default, the norm! I am BLACK, the different, the constructed antithesis to the norm!” “You don’t know what it is like to be BLACK!” and finally, “Blackface. Know what it is and know why it’s NOT ok!”
This is a pretty much an all-white school, with white ideals and values and therefore white ignorance as well.
As an Allegheny College tour guide, I thought that it was fully appropriate that this event occurred during the on-campus visit day.
The events that have transpired are realties of going to a pretty much all white college, in a pretty much all white town where there are people who are ignorant, and insensitive to certain ethnic groups in this case Blacks
This is not to say that Allegheny is not a great school, but one must consider all when looking at schools and this is a reality that must not be ignored.
Maybe in the future, people will know why black people react so passionately and proactively against events like these, and against people that want to oppress us.
I can only hope.
A proud Black African-American male and Allegheny College student.
-Trevor Rishawn Marquis York ’11