We asked several different Xavier students from different years, backgrounds and fields of study to respond to the events concerning the circulation of the racist images that occurred last week. These are their responses:
Racism in America has dwindled, but many have become naïve to the fact that it still exists. This seems to be the unspoken controversy that no one will address. The students involved in the incidents last week at Xavier University may not be racist bigots, and I do not consider them to be, but it is undefined ignorance that they could possibly believe this is a justifiable joke. It is not OK to make a mockery of the historically offensive aspects of a culture, and to think that it’s OK means the problem isn’t in the act itself, but the ignorance. The problem is that not enough people think this is a problem.Not everyone will get it. It’s up to you to stay true to what you believe in and to stand for something bigger than yourself. Fight the adversity for diversity and one day we truly can recognize a world of genuine equality.
– Montel Adkins, Cincinnati, Ohio
When blackface and the skeleton hit campus, I was infuriated. I was absolutely and completely enraged, while simultaneously being overwhelmingly disappointed. Disappointed by the ignorance of the bulk of the white population on campus. After the protest and the forum, I felt revived in a way by the presence of white students joining the conversation. However, now that the dust has settled and the time has come to put in the legwork…will we still show up? Will you still put the time in? What are we, as white students, willing to sacrifice for a more just society?
– Courtney Ambielli, Califon, New Jersey
White privilege is when I am allowed to be surprised by racist images surfacing, while my fellow peers of color are not shocked in the least. White privilege is when I can walk this campus knowing that no one is targeting me for the color of my skin while my brothers and sisters live in fear for their safety. Being an ally is not condemning racism, because we all know racism is wrong. Being an ally is calling out your friend for racial slurs muttered under their breath. Being an ally is telling your professor that, no, the Black Lives Matter movement is not racist. Being an ally is knowing when to step in and, more importantly, knowing when to step back and listen to the voices of others that have been silenced for centuries. This is not one for all. This is not men and women for and with others. These images are hateful. These images are violent. This blatant racism on campus weighs on me with incredible shame.
– Hannah Paige Michels, Cincinnati, Ohio
What happened last week with the Snapchat was just a snapshot into the things that occur every single day. A person doesn’t wake up racist. They don’t just make a tiny racist mistake. Racism is something that is perpetuated and looked at as something mildly taboo—until a person gets caught. I want us as a school to say that this is not acceptable, even if it is something that only two people know about.
– Kevin Thomas, St. Louis, Missouri
The incidents regarding the students having a dashiki in the window and blackface are not new. They are buildups of things let go in the past. As a Black student athlete, I have been told many times that all I’m good for is running fast and jumping high and that I don’t belong here at Xavier. I think that I speak for many students, White and Black, when I say that drastic causes call for a drastic measure. We as a university can’t continue to let these things happen. It is not what we preach, and it is not who we are. We must make a change now.
– Marquia Turner, Canton, Ohio