What can I do as an ally?

By: Riley Head ~Copy Editor~

The recent events on campus were shocking to me. It seemed like Xavier students generally refrained from important conversations, but I thought that was when dealing with sexual assault or different political mindsets. I had no idea that the dividing issues of Xavier were as large or ran as deep as blatant racism.

It was shocking to me to see that people still behave in this way, and even more shocking to see the lack of cultural education that allowed this to happen. Arguments have been made that the girl doing blackface was actually trying to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but even if this is true, there is an extreme lack of cultural education that allowed her to think that painting her whole face black would accomplish this. In fact, what she does not know is that her “display of solidarity,” if that’s what is was meant to be, it a mockery disguised in sympathy.

1This realization is what led me to choose to become active in the education of both the campus and myself. I participated in the silent protest and walkout, and then later joined the open forum for the issue. Even just participating in those two events opened my eyes to so many seemingly invisible problems on campus. I knew that Black students were a shockingly small minority on this campus, but I had no idea just how marginalized and unwelcome they truly felt. Going to the forum I heard so many perspectives and voices and ideas that I had never been exposed to. People talked about how they felt unsafe on campus, how they couldn’t even trust their neighbors.

This is my first semester on campus, and it was scary to move here, but a good scary— the scary that comes with making new friends and adjusting to college life. No one who is brave enough to continue their education at the college level should be scared to go because of the intolerance of other students, and yet I have now seen the face of that fear.

Riley Head is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major and copy editor for the Newswire from Louisville, Ky.

This semester, I am taking a class called Service to Solidarity. We have talked so much about solidarity and what it means, but I have struggled with how to apply it to my own life. These traumatic events on campus allowed me to feel an empathy deeper than I could have imagined for the Black community. I was never quite sure what I could do as a White female to show my support and compassion, but now I know I can just be there.I have learned a lot about the life of Oscar Romero and how he used his time to be a witness to the poor in his country of El Salvador. He listened to their complaints and their sorrows and was simply their friend. That is how I would like to live my life. I want to be compassionate, and I want to show marginalized communities that they are not alone.

I plan to go to Black Student Association’s meetings from now on. If not to participate, then just to show solidarity and support. I do not want anyone to feel alienated on this beautiful campus that I feel lucky to call home. No one should have the bravery to leave their home and further their education only to feel like an unloved outsider. And that absolutely should not apply to a whole group of people. I want to continue to challenge myself to be more vocal in the face of injustice and step outside my comfort zone in hope that a real change and real justice will prevail. This is a fight for peace and justice using peace and justice as its weapons, and I am getting in on the front lines.