Actively Advocating: Not Being Racist Isn’t Enough

We need to address the elephant in the room.  This elephant wears a white sheet and carries a flaming torch, but it also wears a business suit and teaches children a whitewashed view of history.  White supremacy is rampant in our culture, and it’s about time that our campus addresses the very real issue that racism presents today.


Last night I attended a panel discussion discussing racism and white supremacy following the events in Charlottesville, VA last month.  I was anxious to go, as I hadn’t had the opportunity to be part of a forum like this before.  I left the Pattee Library two hours later in an almost trance-like state of awe; it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  Six professors talked to us, answering our questions and giving me a whole new understanding of how racism pervades everyday American life.


Each of the speakers debunked a different myth surrounding the events of Charlottesville; the one I’d like to share with you is the idea that these white supremacists came out of nowhere.  Dr. Cynthia Young, the department head of the African American Studies Department, opened the panel by discussing the ways in which white supremacy is enabled by government inaction.  As the conversation evolved throughout the night, Professor Courtney Morris challenged us to be intentionally anti-racism, reminding us that on both governmental and individual levels, “It is not enough to simply not be racist.”


I could go on forever about the discussion last night, but for time’s sake I’ll leave you the link to the Daily Collegian’s review of the panel here.  What I want to talk about today is what we as students can do to stand up to racism on campus.


Dr. Jeanine Staples introduced a way of tackling the issue of white supremacy in a way I had never thought of before.  She explained how macroaggressions (like the events of Charlottesville) bring global attention to the problem, but that microaggressions, the subtle everyday ways that racism pervades our society, are what allow white supremacy to flourish.  She challenged us to look critically at the world we live in, and find ways in which white-bias affects our culture.  For us that means reading our history books with the knowledge that its white authors may be telling only one side of the story.


The most important point made at the panel last night, and the most relevant for us as college students, is that we make the difference.  If we see discrimination on campus, we can create a movement to oppose it.  The panel did concede that standing up to prejudice is extremely difficult, and often unsuccessful, but it’s our moral duty to fight for racial equality.  Our slogan WE ARE is founded in the idea of racial equality, and it’s up to us to oppose racism and actively fight for a better reality.

One thought on “Actively Advocating: Not Being Racist Isn’t Enough

  1. I think that it is very important for college campuses to address racism as it is very prevalent today. I would have loved to attend an event like this, keep me posted on the next one. However, I find it interesting that the panel only discussed the racism from the event. While, a lot of the people were racially motivated to participate in the event, there were other motivations. Being Jewish and listening to the antisemitic comments coming out of the mouths of those participating wanting me to die was terrifying. I think that it is important to address the racist acts that happen, but I think that it is a sin that the panel did not address other issues that persisted with teachers from other programs as well.

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