Project for Open Voices: Maybe this is Just an Overreaction

The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of the Project for Open Voices. Today’s essay was authored by Michael “Trixie” Kengmana ’14. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email openvoicessubmissions@gmail.com. If you would like to remain anonymous you can send us your response by signing into a second email account:projectopenvoices@gmail.com (password: kenyoncollege).

1-6c0faa5bf1-1

Following the incident that occurred when two Kenyon students walked around the campus at night wearing white sheets, it seemed like the only thing that matched the outcry of a relative minority of students was the silence of the majority of students who thought that this was not an issue, thought it was blown out of proportion, or were simply confused by the whole nature of the event and opted to ignore it. I have heard several arguments including “they are nice guys”, “it’s just stupid kids being stupid”, “they didn’t mean anything by it”, “they weren’t even wearing pointy hats, clearly not KKK”, and “people have a right to be in the KKK” in order to support the positions of the majority. As convincing and well-informed as these arguments are, they are missing the point entirely.

The first argument I would like to address is the one that goes something along the lines of “most people who saw them laughed and thought it was a joke.” Most people who saw the two students were white and the connection did not register at all until the next day when they received emails from Dean Toutain and the Black Student Union, among others, because for most white students at Kenyon this is not a resonant part of their lives. I’ve also seen a lot of responses along the lines of “pick your battles” and “save it for an incident that actually matters”. Who gets to decide what matters and what doesn’t? For those of you claiming this is an overreaction, ask yourself the question, who are you to decide how everyone should feel and treat this situation? Why should we pick our battles? Because it’s annoying to have to listen to “those minorities” sounding off again? Why should we wait until something seriously bad happens, like real hostile racists or homophobes showing up on campus dressed in white sheets? What would have happened if it was not 2 students under the sheets? Most of the campus would have probably seen them and reacted the same way and thought it was funny or just weird because, as this incident clearly shows, that does not register as a part of their reality. Why should we let blatant ignorance go unaddressed and wait for a more serious case?

While the two students did not have any mal-intent, there was certainly harm done. It makes Kenyon harder to call “home” knowing that this type of ignorance is not only a part of the community but is acceptable to many. Though obviously the two students were not members of the KKK, the sight of anything even closely resembling that, especially in the middle of rural Ohio instills fear into many members of the Kenyon community of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, and religions.  It reminds them of the dangers they face because of who they are. It is not lost on anyone in the Kenyon community in the aftermath of this incident that the two students had no bad intentions. What is apparently very tough for much of the Kenyon community to understand though is that it is extremely belittling to many members of this campus to know that their struggles and fears do not register and therefore do not matter.  An issue is only an issue at Kenyon if it offends the majority, which at Kenyon is made up of predominantly middle and upper class white kids. The conversation of most students in this majority seemed to focus on “does this qualify as offensive or not?” and that is missing the point entirely.

I would like to make a quick side point about my use of the terms “white” and “privilege”. I think that too often in situations like this people start throwing around the term “white people” and equating whiteness to ignorance. Ignorance is not an inherently white trait. I hate having a stereotype imposed on me because of my phenotype, and I do not want to do the same to others. The truth is though that being white is a privilege in America and so is growing up wealthy, two things that many students at Kenyon have at least one of if not both. Even having these privileges does not necessarily equate to ignorance, but ignorance is often a product of these privileges because many realities that people face can and often are disregarded in day-to-day life. I want to make it clear that it is wrong to associate ignorance with someone simply because they are white. For those that were offended by this, I apologize, but I would also like you to consider that this is a small glimpse of what racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities as well as women go through every day.

This is not a matter of offending people though, or rather that is only at the surface of what this is all about. Many Kenyon students come from privileged white backgrounds where racism and other forms of discrimination only reside in history textbooks, novels, movies, or the far away land we call “the South”. They come to Kenyon with knowledge of Martin Luther King Jr. and how we now have a black president. I guess it should not surprise me that people of this background would not understand the magnitude of an occurrence like this, but yet it still does. It disheartens me and it scares me.

It disheartens me because the harm done to members of this community can be brushed aside by some people simply saying “This is not an issue. Stop complaining.” They have this power because the particular occurrence may not have taken the form of discrimination or bigotry as has been defined by a white-heterosexual-male standard; because racism, homophobia, sexism, and other types of prejudice and discrimination only exist to them in theories, discussions, political debates, and assorted shallow media coverage. These realities do not exist though for people of this background on the personal level. They don’t know the pain and embarrassment when someone calls them a “chink” right to their face and walks away as if nothing happened. They don’t know the confusion when they are randomly picked out of a crowd of their white friends by police when they have done nothing wrong. They don’t know the shame of having their white friends look at them and wonder what was going on as they are frisked. They don’t know the anger felt after the fact knowing that because they were born a certain way they could be subject to that sort of treatment. They don’t know the struggle of having to evaluate their worth as a person because they were born a certain way that society deems lesser. And they obviously do not understand the fear that can arise when 2 people walk around in white sheets in the dark in the middle of Ohio and how belittling and scary it is to know that most of the community does not care.

What is even more disheartening is that incidents like this only scratch the surface of the real issues that we face in society in terms of inequality and discrimination. Yet, we can’t seem to understand the shallowest aspects of these issues, let alone deal with them at a place that allegedly champions tolerance, understanding, and diversity. There are much deeper issues that can never be addressed under the current attitudes we employ. I hear more and more now people say “I’m tired of hearing people talk about offending people.” I am too. I’m tired of not being able to move past the surface of real problems in society because people still cannot seem to fathom that inequality and discrimination of all sorts are REAL and still are the foundations for our society today that affect people in their daily lives. I want to start discussing the real issues about economic inequality and how when one looks at the socioeconomic spectrum of America the upper classes are predominantly white and minorities are predominantly of the lower classes. I want to discuss how a person can be denied their full rights as citizens because of their sexual preference. I want to discuss how simply being a woman can relegate you to a status as a second class citizen. I want to discuss how stereotypes are not only harmful on a personal level, but how the structures of society are influenced by and reflect these stereotypes and how it perpetuates inequality. These are but a few of the real issues that continue to plague American society that we have not even begun to truly move toward solving. What is perhaps the most troubling part about this incident is that the response shows just how far away we are from starting to solve the real issues of our society because we as a community can’t even understand or empathize with the fear and harm caused for minorities when two students display blatant ignorance and walk around resembling KKK members in the dark in the middle of rural Ohio.

Unfortunately, in all likelihood most of the campus will return to their normal lives and this incident will simply be added to the folklore of intolerant incidents of the past, remembered with little real resonance by the overall community. People will return to feeling validated about themselves as good upstanding citizens who attend a liberal arts school that embraces diversity and understanding, even though these claims are severely lacking in substance. We can return to poking fun at Republican politicians who are just “so out of touch” with real issues and not once think that we might be out of touch ourselves. We can return to the comforts of shallow progressivism where we paint a beautiful picture of a harmonious society and community that stands up for equality, all the while ignoring the issues that challenge our understanding of society, our friends, and ourselves.

Discrimination and inequality are real. They are not just things we talk and debate about in campus discussions held by group organizations. They are not just theories, constructs, or histories that we learn about in class. They are not just challenges faced by characters in books and movies. They are not just words or actions that offend people. They are economic, political, and social realities that render the lives of many people inferior. Most of all, they are personal realities that affect people in their daily lives.

When two students go around at night in the middle of rural Ohio dressed in white sheets and are completely ignorant as to how their actions might affect other people, it shatters the sense of security, as well as the ability to truly call Kenyon “home” for many students. When a large portion of the community involved responds to this incident by saying that those that were harmed are “overreacting” it shows that there is a blatant ignorance and even perhaps unwillingness to acknowledge the realities of the world in which we live, because their privilege allows them to do so. But just because a person with the privilege of not having to feel the effects of inequality and discrimination says that an incident is not an issue, does not make it any less real or harmful for those that do. Just because someone has the privilege of ignoring the realities of inequality and discrimination does not mean they do not contribute to it on a daily basis by maintaining the status quo that is inequality and ignorance.

All of these realities are in some way rooted in intolerance and ignorance. Yes, there are clearly more serious cases that have occurred, but that does not mean that this incident is acceptable and should not be addressed. This incident shows that the type of ignorance that breeds the realities mentioned above is alive and well here at Kenyon, and the response by many shows that this is apparently acceptable. But it’s not acceptable and if we want to actually start living up to the ideals we preach of understanding and equality we need to start addressing these issues. We need to address this incident and the ignorance surrounding it now because we shouldn’t have to wait for something of greater consequence to happen in order to act. We need to address this incident and the ignorance surrounding it because something of greater consequence has happened. It happens every day, has happened every day in the history of this country, and there seems to be no end in near sight because we lack the ability to understand and act. It’s called life in a racist, homophobic, sexist, intolerant and unequal society.

But on second thought, maybe this is just an overreaction.

33 responses

  1. Oh my god YES THANK YOU.
    Seriously, it is so wonderful that you took the time to sit down and carefully write out these excellent and compelling (and right!) arguments.
    I am sorry that you have to explain this sort of thing to the people you go to school with, but bravo for doing so.
    Worth reading.

  2. You use the phrase “rural Ohio” several times and it seems as though we’re supposed to pick up on sinister connotations. Doesn’t that undermine your argument a little? Maybe I’m just taking it the wrong way.

    • Rural areas have historically had high klan activity, making two figures in white in a rural setting feel that much more threatening. I fail to see this undermining his argument in any way.

    • I grew up in the rural Appalachians myself and my county had some of the highest rates of Klan activity in the nation, so I don’t see how it undermines it so much as lends it credence.

      • It’s terribly easy for folks here to make the assumption that rural Ohio equates with a high level of racism, or to make hay out of the “fact” that rural areas had historically high Klan presences (non-fact; far too broad to have any applicability to this matter) and, viola, the a priori fact that rural Ohio has high levels of racism now. As someone who lives outside of Gambier but works within the Kenyon community – interacting with some of you everyday – it seems to me that none of you have gotten to know any of us very well. Otherwise it would not be so easy as to make the broad generalization that Kenyon is a beacon of light in the land of racist ignoramuses. Don’t palliate this issue by dragging gross assumptions about Knox County into it. Either what these kids did was wrong by itself or was not wrong – by itself. The area should not matter. We go against any civil rights advancements by trying to justify conclusions based on locality.

    • As 3rd Anonymous said, the writer’s emphasis on location indicates that he expects Klan activity/similar exhibitions of racism in this area. I live in the South so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it there, nor would I be surprised to see it in rural Appalachia. There is historical precedence for these assumptions. What I meant is that this area isn’t known for that kind of activity, so it’s kind of insulting to assume that it would happen here just because it’s rural. I thought “rural Ohio” sounded derisive in context and it seemed bizarre that he would claim to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of ignorance. But as 3rd Anon said, Kenyon students usually don’t take the time to get to know Knox County and it becomes sort of a joke, like a racist uncle. This actually goes quite well with the writer’s comment about how we are out of touch; I definitely agree that we have the luxury of blocking out many unsavory bits of the outside world, which makes us forget them almost entirely. But I think that he’s kind of doing the same thing by implying that he expects Knox County residents to be ignorant and racist.

      • This is anecdotal as all hell, but there is literally a store in downtown Mt. Vernon called “Kristen’s Kouture Korner”, and no one in the area appears to feel awkward about having a store with the initials KKK.

        I’m just saying, if my name was Ned, and I wanted to open Ned’s Awesome Zebras Incorporated, someone would probably tap me on the shoulder about the acronym.

      • I’ve always found the KKK store odd too, but it’s actually “Kollection” and I believe when I last drove by they were moving/going out of business.

      • While you are correct in saying that students should not assume that “rural Ohio” is equatable with KKK activity, you must understand that Knox County also has a history of Klan and neo-Nazi activity. There is a semi-active neo-Nazi group in Knox County known as the Rebels (guys who drive around town in trucks and threaten/insult homosexual and non-white people). Also, there are seven listed ACTIVE neo-Nazi chapters in Ohio (http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/neo-nazi/active_hate_groups).
        You’re right…ignorance on any front is unacceptable. And the whole “townie”/college brat thing disgusts me. But this is not the focal point (or even included) in the discussion here. The thing is that the author of this article was not being ignorant. Make sure to check your facts first. And please please PLEASE do not think for a moment that you can use this argument to detract from the point of the article.

    • To the person who works at Kenyon College who responded as I think the third anonymous post I just wanted to say thank you so much for comments. I’ve been disturbed from the start by the fact that it has been treated as irrefutable fact that because we are in a rural location we are full of racists in Knox County. While it is important that students at Kenyon want to deal with issues of privilege within the campus, I think that we all too often overlook our the privilege we have as Kenyon students in comparison to some of the people in the area. I wish that at Kenyon all of us (including myself) could be more aware of the way we end up mocking, overlooking, and stereotyping the people around us. We belong not only to Kenyon College but also to Knox County and we should do more to be respectful part of our community.

      • Yeah but the thing is this happened a little over a week ago fhttp://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20131121/NEWS01/311210015/. It’s not in Knox county, but under an hour away.
        People come to campus all the time to campaign for various causes (there were fire and brim-stone preachers in the last month too), so it’s not unlikely that a hate group could do the same. For those on this campus not from a rural area or Ohio, who could be the victims of a hate crime, the association between their physical environment and the sight of two distant white-robed figures would trigger a substantial fear response. Knox county is a wonderful place filled with wonderful people, but to deny the fact that racism (and other isms) aren’t alive and well is to be myopically blind to reality. The author is not saying that everyone in Knox county is a racist, or that people who live in rural areas are inherently racist: he is presenting the rural environment as an unfamiliar zone where a person in KKK robes could plausibly appear on campus.

  3. I wonder how this would have turned out if one of the students happened to be African-American himself, or any other minority for that matter. Would it have been such a big deal then? Would this article be written under those circumstances?

    If they were actually dressed like the KKK and not Charlie Brown’s Halloween costume in the critically acclaimed television special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” then there would be need for a very large discussion. As it is, this is just an overreaction.

  4. the author is absolutely right but i think that we do need to keep in mind that there are two very real students on campus who were involved in this incident. i don’t know either of them except in passing, but they seem like good people.

    without even a bit of doubt, they did the wrong thing, they fucked up. but also without a bit of doubt they responded through their allstu in a very aware and mature matter and seem to be willing to engage in a productive dialog when they could easily have taken the same “oops it was a joke” approach that some (most) students did and gotten plenty of support for it. they’re not off the hook, but this issue needs to be looked at as one pertaining to the kenyon community as a whole with these two as an example of the ignorance, not evil, that can be very present here.

    • i guess i say this because some of the language in your piece sounded very angry/accusatory to me. i dont deny the validity of feeling anger about this situation, and i do, i think, share some of it, but i just want to make sure this anger is directed to the right places – that we are working to make real changes and awareness and not just shame people (well-intentioned if misguided, i try to assume) supporters.

    • “…but this issue needs to be looked at as one pertaining to the kenyon community as a whole with these two as an example of the ignorance, not evil, that can be very present here.”

      IGNORANCE, NOT EVIL. Yes.

  5. This post is lovely, but the one thing I take issue with is the implication that these ‘white, upper-class’ and therefore ‘privileged’ kids should be blamed and shamed because of what they did when they obviously did not know the connotations. Of course we can say they should have known, that they should have thought everything through, but they didn’t. They honestly didn’t know. It’s not their fault; it’s the fault of how they grew up and the circumstances that they grew up in. It’s the fault of people not changing. But if we shame and blame everyone who does something ‘wrong’ because they don’t know it is wrong, nothing comes out of it. Everyone, everyone, would be in that situation many times in their life.

    • ((warning: i get really long-winded. this will be long. i feel it in my fingers. oh god))

      Firstly, on the contrary, Trixie takes care to refute this “blaming and shaming” attitude explicitly: “… having these privileges does not necessarily equate to ignorance […] I want to make it clear that it is wrong to associate ignorance with someone simply because they are white.”

      Don’t get me wrong: I don’t disagree with your post, but this sort of reaction, kindly and respectfully as you’ve phrased it, is inherently apologist. Pointing out the issue with something — simply talking about something that went wrong — does not equate to casting blame and shame. If one of my friends made a joke about rape, or about race, me saying, “Hey, let’s talk about why you just said that,” is not blaming or shaming. It’s the start of a dialogue. Saying “Wow, just … wow, you disgust me,” and walking away? That’s shaming. But that’s not at all what Trixie’s done with this thoughtful, detailed essay.

      As I said, I don’t disagree with you: privilege is not a crime, ignorance is not a crime, and to treat either of them as such is ridiculous — and I’ll definitely concede that this is a HUGE flaw of many modern social movements. Being impatient or rude to those who don’t know/understand something is such an intellectual turn-off, and accomplishes nothing, as you rightly say. Yet so many people will pull that bullshit all day: “Ugh, straight white cis male, you’re privileged, your viewpoint is invalid!” What a poisonous, disrespectful attitude.

      But looking at Kenyon specifically? Firstly, let me say this: this essay is not about the two guys who didn’t know. This essay is about the overwhelming Kenyon response that’s like, “Chill, get over it, no big deal,” after the problem has already been identified and handed to us on a silver platter. This deserves analysis because we claim to live in an intellectual haven where ignorance is actively combated, which is why the term “check your privilege” (frequently decried as ludicrous because it’s thrown around so often) remains relevant to the lives of Kenyon students. We’re /expected/ to check our privilege, and frankly, I love that, because “checking privilege” is just another term for being socially aware.

      Admittedly, what people don’t talk about regarding “checking privilege” is that that shit is SUPER HARD. It’s a constant battle, especially for those who, as you said, simply didn’t grow up to be hyper-aware of things like race. “Checking privilege” means actively shifting your entire paradigm to accommodate the struggles of minority groups who have been socially sabotaged by a flawed world. At its heart, “checking privilege” means focusing more on respecting the lives of others than preserving the mindset you may have happened to absorb while growing up. And as much as Kenyon kids laugh and joke about “HURHUR WHERE DO I CHECK MY PRIVILEGE?? CAN I CHECK IT OUT AGAIN??” … shit, man, I’m pretty sure 99% of us DO care about respecting others. I would hope it extends far enough that people are willing to take the time to actively listen, to actively learn.

      Yo, sorry, I’m rambling, as predicted. In essence, here’s what I’m trying to say. You’re right; blaming and shaming are not productive. But starting conversation regarding this stuff does not equate to shaming the people who are lucky enough not to regard this as an issue. (It doesn’t even necessarily place blame on two guys who were just trying to complete a fun-sounding bucket list.) Importantly, I don’t think Trixie’s essay blames anyone. I think Trixie’s essay focuses on the importance of educating oneself and staying aware, because it’s the unwillingness to do so that mires us in antiquated points of view. It’s the unwillingness to learn and make progress and just /listen/ to the people around us that hinders us as a greater society.

      And that doesn’t just mean sitting back and not being a dick and letting the change happen around you as you exist inoffensively. It means this: MAKE the change happen yourself. When someone does something problematic, yeah, call them out on it and talk about it (respectfully)! And on a personal level, you can shift your paradigm a million ways. Read books about queer people, trans* people, or the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities. Read articles about feminism. Ask minorities around you about their experiences as a minority. I mean, God, so many of these marginalized groups — especially here at Kenyon! — would love to have their opinions heard. In essence, educate yourself. Know things. Always try harder. Because YES, it IS your responsibility to know these things and to try hard, because we all live on this earth together, good Lord, we’re not islands, the things we say and do affect other people EVERY DAY.

      And if at the end of the day, you’ve read things, and you’ve watched videos, and you’ve asked questions to try and break down what exactly privilege entails, and you still don’t “get it”? Then fuck it, you can say you tried, and I (at the very least) will respect you a hell of a lot for having tried.

      P.S. — I don’t blame the guys who dressed up for making a mistake. It was clearly the most innocent of mistakes, and frankly, I think they handled the aftermath with remarkable grace and poise. But people defending the mistake itself is another thing entirely. Like, seriously, should “they grew up not knowing” really be thought of as a /barrier/ to learning about the experiences of people who are unlike you? Because I feel that it should be looked at as an invitation. Yo, if I grew up not knowing how to turn a doorknob and I walked out into a world full of doorknobs, I’d consider it my duty to learn how to use that shit ASAP. Not to, you know, make inadequate analogies for social issues that are incredibly tangled and sensitive.

      i’m sorry i’m sorry i shouldn’t have gone on this long i’m supposed to be writing a real essay aaagh. i hope you don’t feel like i’m attacking you dear anonymous writer i really do see your point and i appreciate your respectful critique of the essay okay bye

  6. You keep bringing up hate directed at people with different sexualities or those in the LGBTQIA spectrum. You miss one thing. The black population here feels ‘safe’ enough to bring up the incident because they know they will be supported, heard, and be acknowledged. Parts of the LGBTQUIA spectrum don’t have that safety net. Especially trans* people. Transphobia is abundant here. I’ve been the victim of discrimination and things that can easily be classified as hate crimes when people have found out I’m trans*. And I’ve reported, I’ve tried to get things done. I’ve tried to talk to people. But here’s the thing: nothing happens. You don’t get responses. Things don’t move forward. Your stories are dismissed as being impossible because things just can’t be that way. Right now, all I can think is that as a black person on campus, you are lucky. You have a way to be heard.

    • as a member of the black community, i would like to point out that we don’t feel safe to bring this up. when we planned the discussion about the incident we did not expect people to show up that were not part of our community but other minorities, including members of the LQBTQIA spectrum, appeared and offered their support. there are so many times in my four years at this campus that incidents have happened and just been dismissed. so trust me when i say that anyone who is not a wealthy, straight, white male has had to deal with their issues being swept under the rug, whether they are rape victims who have to see their rapists around campus or LGTBQIA people being harassed or a black student whose white roommate said that their room “smells like black people” whatever the hell that means. kenyon’s system is not equipped to handle our problems and finally certain people on campus are sick and tired of it and have started screaming at the top of their lungs. join us. i personally know the managers of unity and they will not stand for a member of the community they are in charge of helping me victimized on their watch. and i know that other members in the black community and other communities are sick and tired of hearing about situations like yours. come to someone and i promise you will have support.

  7. Yes Kenyon is an expensive school, one of the most expensive in the country. Wealthy kids are privileged in that their parents can afford to send them here paying full ride. But are not other groups of kids privileged because of their ability to come here? I think it’s a great privilege for the inner-city kid or rural kid, even rural ohio, who comes here on some kind of scholarship based on race for the purposes of diversifying Kenyon to have privilege as well. There is simply not one type of privilege nor one type of ignorance. To say “ignorance is not an inherently white trait” is not granting some kind of acquittal, it’s relatively insulting. White people may be ignorant of aspects of black culture, just as easily as black people can be ignorant of parts of white culture.

  8. Who are you actually speaking to in this article? Where is this horde of students of “privileged white backgrounds” you speak of? Where is this apathetic mob of pale j. crew-wearing pasties that tends not to care about these things? Do you want us to wear less expensive clothing or move to a less affluent neighborhood? Maybe we should all shop at goodwill in, you know, a non-ironic way. I’m sensing a new trend.

    Are we not among your friends that you talk to every day? Do we not hold the door for you as you enter a building? Do we not help study together for exams? Are we not a part of the thoughtful, sensitive campus here? The author seems to tread lightly around the association with “white” and ignorance, but I don’t see how he really avoids it. Besides one paragraph that makes a flimsy argument against this association, I feel like there is a very cynical undertone that makes me sad. The author attempts to make this a human issue rather than a race issue, but I do not see an adequate distinction in this article. It is so problematic to say that most of the community does not care, because, of course, most of the community is made up of students from “privileged white backgrounds.” Checks out.

    Also, it seems like the author is upset that not everyone holds the same view in regards to this incident. Why? The world is getting better, isn’t it? We can’t all be the ubermensch. The amount of discussion this incident generated, regardless of whatever view someone chooses to take, should be a sign of hope, at least. People actually care.

    I really hope I did not sound too contradictory here or that I sound cynical. I mean I guess I am cynical, but I was just trying to joke a bit. I think the bottom line is that it was an honest mistake, as has been pointed out countless times, and the discussion the incident generated is more than enough punishment, I think. I mean dear lord, imagine potential employers finding this in google. We’re in college. We make mistakes. Fortunately this one was relatively harmless, I’d say, compared to terrible things that have happened in America’s past in terms of racism. Perhaps we should feel fortunate that, no matter what view someone takes, we are putting an extremely high amount of thoughtful discussion into a matter that is very ambiguous, but where discussion is warranted, it seems.

    Don’t label me privileged or white. And don’t assume that I might tend to have certain views. Don’t assume that my experience is wholly different. This is part of the problem also. To hell with race. Let’s get an anth professor here to tell us about race. There will be no words on it, for it only exists as a convention. It serves absolutely no purpose at all. Let us abolish it!

    • “Fortunately this one was relatively harmless, I’d say, compared to terrible things that have happened in America’s past in terms of racism.”

      Saying that a thing someone did wasn’t as bad as slavery or Jim Crow doesn’t make it an okay thing.

      But then again, I can’t tell if you’re being serious, since your entire post oozes so much sarcasm that my laptop is getting sticky. Discourse is one thing, but if you’re so facetious that i can’t tell your jokes from the points you’re making, then you’re not helping anyone, even someone who took the time to read your whole post.

    • what do you mean the world is getting better? the only way the world is different from the civil rights era is that saying certain things are no longer socially acceptable. people still think them. the system still operates against minorities. i want to know what world has gotten better so i can move there.

      also, the students who did this put their names out into the public. they know the potential consequences involved in doing that. and the business insider article (http://www.businessinsider.com/two-kenyon-students-offered-an-incredibly-sincere-and-thoughtful-apology-after-accusations-of-racial-insensitivity-2013-11), which pissed many people off for all the right reasons, did enough praising of the incident for all of us.

      • how can you assume that people still think them? the only way we can measure what people believe is by what people actually say. do you really think that people are that dishonest in the sense that they have hateful thoughts that they are increasingly afraid to express because of what is socially acceptable to say these days? Regardless if people “still think” socially unacceptable things, it’s safe to say, as a historicist argument maybe, that culture and society influence one’s thoughts. In that sense, I see the world moving forward, so I have to disagree.

      • ” the only way the world is different from the civil rights era is that saying certain things are no longer socially acceptable.”

        This is so stupid. So. So. Stupid.

    • If you’re wondering where all the dismissive students are, check out any number of the posts on this thread or in the original comment thread on the first thrill article about the incident

  9. Am I the only one who never ever considered the students were dressed in more than bad costumes until the email got sent out?

  10. I think there is a definite privilege in being able to label “rural Ohio” as having specific associations and connotations. These things do matter, and detract from an otherwise excellent piece.

Share your thoughts on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s