With the Taco 6 and the CC elections, plus all of the micro-/macro-aggressions we have dealt with before and will continue to deal with, during and after those events, I imagine the Latin@ community at Williams is far too swamped to fully express themselves right now. I only find myself able to because I’m lucky enough to be abroad. Disclaimer: I represent no one but myself in this. If others agree/identify with what I have to say, so be it. I’m writing under the assumption that every word of this will somehow be ridiculed or disregarded, but here it is:
Dear White Martyrs
Let me start off by saying that I’m not racist because I have plenty of white friends. You probably have a mental list of ‘friends’ you’ve collected like baseball cards and are ready to put on display whenever you need to prove you’re not racist.
The events in question today might be considered old and therefore irrelevant, but racism doesn’t have an expiration date. At the time, you were certainly ‘educated’ enough to do better. At the time, you were certainly old enough to know better. A generation whose lives currently span from the era after the Rodney King riots to Darren Wilson’s state-sanctioned execution of Michael Brown cannot blame its actions on a ‘different time.’ You should have known something like this was going to come back and bite you in the ass eventually. I think apologizing now would be pointless. You are not truly sorry; you are only sorry that you got caught.
Since you seem to have some sort of chronic and automatic entitlement to the compassion and accommodation of those whose feelings and lived experiences you consistently disregard, let me clarify a few things you’re not used to hearing: You do not deserve my empathy. You do not deserve my understanding. You don’t get to have my consideration. I do not owe you any of my time or conversation.
I’m not here to enrich your experience. I am not your model minority. I don’t exist as a walking encyclopedia on how all Latin@s think and feel. I’m a first-gen student of immigrant parents. Even within this category I have several privileges that many of my peers do not. I’ve been doubling up on lab courses so that I could go abroad. I’m helping save up so my parents and brothers can come to commencement next year and witness the first college graduation in our family’s history. I sleep somewhere in between rugby, volunteering, and social engagements. I’m in fact an actual student and at Williams I’m super busy just like everyone else. Why should I have to make time for this shit? Why should I have to make time for your shit?
Dear White Supporters of the White Martyrs
First: for the love of God stop opening your defensive statements with “I understand, but…” because you can’t. You never will.
You expect me to treat these things like isolated incidents. You expect me to accept a yet nonexistent apology and undeclared feelings of true remorse for something that is only going to happen again and again. You expect me to stay ‘civil’ after being attacked repeatedly. It is clear that this student body is more ready to empathize with the actions of the incredibly offensive than with the reactions of the incredibly offended. In that case, room to mess up is a luxury I will no longer be granting to those who already have everything. To those among you who cry ‘cyberbullying’: it seems like you are just trying to steer attitudes towards empathy and understanding in hopes that you won’t be treated as harshly on the day that you slip up on the act and let your true self out. To those among you who cry ‘public shaming,’ it’s pronounced “accountability.” If nothing else, then maybe it will make past and potential perpetrators think twice before deciding on a party theme or putting on a racist costume.
I’ve pretty much heard every excuse, but my favorite one is ‘It’s not my fault, I’m just a product of my environment.’ This is a paper-thin argument. If I had allowed myself to become a product of my environment then I wouldn’t be at Williams. So what’s your excuse? If you grew up in a first-world country and had access to the internet, then you have had the power to use it for something other than looking up cat videos, posting your Ice Bucket Challenges, or belittling an entire people. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.
This ignorance only makes me angry because I love myself. Whenever something like this happens, the suggested solution to my anger invariably includes some form of me having to do more. I should be more empathetic. I should be more unconditionally understanding. I should be eager to allow these people into my precious and safe social sphere for their benefit. People like me are in short supply here, so I shouldn’t be so selfish with such a scarce resource. I clearly cannot be trusted with it.
So, by all means, tell me how I should feel. Tell me how I should react. Tell me how I should not react. Tell me it’s up to me to educate the ignorant. Tell me to give them another chance. They clearly haven’t had many. Tell me I shouldn’t single them out in public. Tell me I should drop everything I’m doing to start a dialogue. Tell me I’m overreacting. Tell me all about their redeeming qualities. Tell me to empathize with people who show no empathy. Tell me that they can mock an entire culture because they didn’t really mean to. Then tell me that’s not white supremacy.
POC Supporters of the White Martyrs
You are the worst form of tokenism. You make all of this okay in the minds of the oppressors. You make everyone else look like they’re overreacting when it is actually you who are underreacting. If you refuse to pay attention to what’s really going on and you’re absolutely fine with the way things are, then there’s no need to mention it proudly and publicly; it does more harm than good.
À Mis Herman@s
I am incredibly sorry that you have to deal with this barely three months after the last photo leaked. I’m reaching out to both vent my frustrations and send my solidarity to the other side of the Atlantic. I would also like to give some words of advice. Do yourselves a favor and delete YikYak. Be merciless with the ‘unfriend’ button. If a classroom full of white people tokenizes you for what they think is your universal opinion, BS something and watch them nod. If a white hookup tells you they’ve never been with a Latin@ person, then tell them that they never will because you’re leaving or kicking them out. I will personally love to join you for Snack Bar afterwards. If you ever feel like you have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the world, remember that your ancestors invented chocolate: Mother. Fucking. Chocolate.
You are not a commodity. You are not a baseball card. You are not a bucket-list item. You are a student at a 2.3 billion dollar institution. Your parents are more proud of you than you will ever understand. I am more proud of you than you will ever understand.
You are what happens when you mix a people who conquered half the world with people who fought them off in the end. You are what happens when those people choose to start from scratch in a country that does not want them. Our culture is more than just a box we tick off on legal documents. It exists outside of a weekly meeting on Thursdays. And contrary to what those with money may think, it is not for sale.