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I, Too, Am A Saint: Op-Ed: Why BSU Does Not Represent Me

Why BSU Does Not Represent Me

by Brittany Williams, Class of ’16

It may be seen as unusual, but as a black student reading the list of demands the Black Student Union had, I didn’t feel inspired to take part in supporting the protest. It’s not because I’m against social justice, but in reading the list of demands I found some points problematic, the main ones being:

  • How Emmanuel has generally “failed the black students and students of color community”
  • The demand “to be holistically included as a part of Emmanuel College’s student body, to have our demands heard on campus, and to be recognized and respected as individuals, not simply as numbers to fill the institution’s diversity quota”
  • How Emmanuel has failed “to reach out to the student of color community (Black and Brown students) when campus controversies that directly affect us occur”
  • How Emmanuel “[failed] to address the Emmanuel College community and express sympathy and compassion when international tragedies occur outside of Europe”

1: I don’t feel that the school has failed me— at least not in the same way they have listed on the document—and I don’t feel that people who have different motivations and backgrounds from me should be speaking on my behalf as an individual when I have my own personal issues that (to my knowledge) they don’t touch upon often.

2: I attend classes, I get meals, I live there, and participate in clubs. I’m pretty certain I’m part of the student body. Additionally, that’s not limited to Emmanuel; all colleges are businesses and not having much diversity doesn’t look good in a liberal institution. The school’s first concern, regardless of your background, is money.

3: I really wanted to know why you’d say student of color community, but then emphasize Black and Brown? Why limit it to skin tone? What Brown are we talking about? Filipino? Indian? The school’s talked about Indian issues, Middle Eastern issues, and I’ve seen discussions about stuff like Ferguson that happen the glass room. What about students from Middle Eastern countries who may not have a brown appearance? Many of them appear “white”, so you’d be erasing people’s culture and issues on the basis of a skin tone.

4: The school, like the rest of the world, responded to France because it hit the news big time because of our media. It’s not a matter of valuing a white European life more than a black one. Our media is tied into national interests, being business and politics, and France has been one of our biggest allies since the 1700s, which helped us exist as a country. Plus it’s a superpower and those get more attention in the media. That, and it makes a better news story to say, “that could never happen in a place like this!” Additionally, we need to learn to separate our American centric viewpoint when it comes to analyzing events transpiring in other countries, because those countries don’t focus on the same things we do, and more often than not there is more than one underlying issue to a problem. To make it a matter of race, just turns it into a competition of, “who has it worse, who is valued more, and us vs. them.” It doesn’t honor any of the lives that were lost and continue to be lost in senseless acts of violence around the world. I know people care about Africa and the Middle East because I saw so many posts on social media about them along with France. And SGA just responded like everyone else—though it was a student who wanted a candle light vigil, not SGA (they helped) and SGA did honor the other people in countries who died too.

I do like the idea of more cultural classes and training, but only if EVERYONE had to do them, because being a student of color doesn’t excuse you from being insensitive about issues of race. So when BSU makes an attempt to speak for me or other students of color, who may think differently—they make a bold error. They take away something that people throughout the centuries have been fighting for: the right to a choice. It’s one thing to say that the school has failed you and your organization, but it’s an entirely different thing to make a blanket statement saying the school has failed the entirety of the people of color community, while not even hearing what those other students have to say about it. You choose to feel that way and that’s fine; but don’t take away my option to feel differently because that is not respecting me as an individual. To me, it feels like a way to bolster your own particular agenda while not valuing me as a person, but rather valuing my skin color over what I believe.

Posted by on November 30, 2015. Filed under I Too Am A Saint. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to I, Too, Am A Saint: Op-Ed: Why BSU Does Not Represent Me

  1. Anon

    December 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. As a student of color, who isn’t black or brown I feel SEVERELY UNDERREPRESENTED in the list of demands. Did they reach out to the other organizations with students of color? This really seems like they want something divisive between PoC and white students. Wish they had asked other people of color besides just barricading themselves.