Things that bring me joy: Get out (leave! Right now)

Since the Orange Tangerine and his merry band of Hateful Nonsense™ has been added to the already daily dose of constant isms I face as a female member of team Black n’ Gay, the list of topics I’ve wanted to write about has gone through the roof. In an attempt to clear out my draft list, I created a rule for myself: I wouldn’t write new things unless I finished a few old posts.

And then, last Tuesday, I went out to see Get Out. A movie is so good, it currently has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This, coupled with the fact that I have no discipline and I write what I want, is why we’re here.

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I have a sh*tton to say, and there will probably be spoilers. #sorrynotsorry

Before we get started, I want to acknowledge the joy of seeing this movie surrounded by my friends of color, and 50 other Black people in Tacoma. There is no greater bonding experience than a whole theatre full of POCs cheering on a Black man curbstomp a racist dude bro on his way out to survival. Jordan Peele and his incredible brain brought the community together.

Get Out is one of the most brilliant films of this year. There is no way around this fact. I hate horror films, yet I would go see Get Out again. And write a dissertation on it. But maybe not in Naperville, because I can’t go to my childhood hometown anymore. Or many of my friend’s homes. When I say I walked into work the next day suspicious as hell. I love my coworkers, but I’m going to need proof of safety exits and three references from Black women who made it out alive before I can go back to my boss’ house. (Ashleigh’s note: If you go to your boss’s house, TELL ME!)

The beauty of horror films is their ability to add some plausibility to the audience. We are scared not just because certain elements are terrifying, but because somewhere in the back of our mind, we can imagine pieces of the movie happening to us. And one of reasons Get Out is such a great horror film is because it is so stepped in realism: specifically for Black people and people of color, it accurately portrays the spectrum of racism that we experience on a daily basis. Literally the only fake thing was the psychosis+extreme sci-fi mind control. 89-96% of this scary movie is literally Black people’s experiences with White folks.

Example: If you haven’t had the privilege of being the only person of color at a function (while, in your identity development, woke enough to realize the racial tension that comes with being greatly outnumbered by White people), let me break it down for you: it is an uncomfortable feeling. At best, the majority of the White people you’re around are those you trust and somewhat vouch for their ability to engage in allyship, so you can at least enjoy your friends’ company as you stick out like a sore thumb.  At worst, you’re around multiple people you don’t know, and your only coping options are to finish your presentation/sit in the back and pray no one notices you/get so drunk you forget your own name, until you’re able to leave the speech/conference/wedding/shower.

The party scene in Get Out captured all this so eloquently, and brought me back to the times that, either by my own doing or out of my control, I was the only brown person in the room. A note to many of my White friends and exes: you have taken me to spaces like this. Multiple times. And even if you’ve tried to make as comforting as possible, it’s still weird. Especially if there’s 10,000 White eyes on me, and a lot of microaggressional-questions about my body/hair/upbringing/skin/name. I love you. But still.

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Yaaaaaaaay.

I have never had a horror movie speak so accurately into my soul. And that is just ONE SCENE with ONE THEME to unpack. Not to even talk about the prevalence of White woman tears and toxic White women feminism and fakeness.  And their obsession with thinking Black men are/need to be obsessed with them (*eHEM*). Or the analogy of cultural appropriation, and White folks wanting so bad to be us without wanting to be us. Or the assimilation to White culture, and ignoring other Black people.  Or the perfect analogies of the sunken place. Or or or or, or or, or. I haven’t even scratch the surface.

To me, Get Out feels iconic for a few different reasons. I think about the unapologetic way it captures White liberalism. Which is probably why the movie has a few White people mad: it holds the mirror up not only to the explicitly racist Neo-Nazis of our time, but to White moderates who tell you they’ve voted for Obama and drop 2-5 microaggressions in the same breathe. It calls out “well meaning White folks,” and shows that, unchecked, they too, can be racist. We’re at a place where “well meaning White folks” society stresses out about Black millennials voting the right way and then turns around AND VOTES FOR TRUMP. Or where “well meaning White” woman get mad because a women’s march acknowledges intersecting identities and offended when asked if we’ll see them at the next #BlackLivesMatter march (fun fact: apparently “nice White lady” is a slur). To be “well meaning” is not enough. And Get Out stresses this point perfectly.

Get Out is also powerful because a Black person defeated the odds and made it out of the house. As we know, often times, that’s not how the story ends. And I’m not even talking about other horror movies. Around the same time Get Out was released, 18-year-old Ben Keita was found hung in the woods near Seattle. 24-year-old Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond was shot multiple times in Chicago and was misgendered in the news. And then, less than a few days later, 31-year-old Chyna Doll Dupree was shot in New Orleans (and misgendered in the news), And then, less than a few days later, 25-year-old Ciara McElveen was stabbed in New Orleans (and misgendered in the news). Get Out is not a tool to forget about these individuals, but gives us a narrative that we as Black folks don’t get to hear often: a Black person, in the presence of several White people that wanted to harm them, ESCAPED. There is power in that statement, a storyline that we don’t hear enough in real life.

Honestly, Get Out is the movie we need and deserve. Beyond the fact that it gave us a lot of material for hilarious tweets (my favorites being the ones that give a shout-out to Rod from TSA), it does a great job of calling out Whiteness and allowing folks to see what it’s like to be the only Black person in a room, all while being witty, smart, and real as hell.

Paper Cuts and Fatal Bullets

In my current job, I create and facilitate bystander intervention trainings for student leaders. We focus not only on sexual assault prevention, but other instances where we may need to step in as active bystanders. This year, we’ve added a section around microaggressions, and students have about a million and seven questions about them. Which is fine when the questions are respectful, because students are all in the sessions to learn (and my problematic self didn’t even learn the term until my senior year in college, so I’m one to judge). I’m excited students come in eager to gain knowledge, but whew!

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Besides the basic:

  1. “what is a microaggression” (answer: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color” [Sue, et al., 2007]), and
  2. “are White girls who wear Ugg boots and drink PSLs targets of microaggression? “(answer: no)

a question I’ve heard this year, and have gotten in the past when talking about microaggressions is “why are microaggressions a big deal? They’re like…tiny aggressions. They aren’t a big deal as killing someone, so why are we talking about them?” (This is a mashup of direct quotes from different individuals telling me or other facilitators that microaggressions aren’t a big deal. Most of these are from White folks, p.s.)

If you can’t tell, this particular question bothers me to no end. Hold on to this thought.

Two days ago, I saw a notification on my phone that #TerenceCrutcher was trending on Twitter. At this point, I, like many others, have an unfortunate sixth sense about names that trend as hashtags. I assumed the worst. Today, like other days, I was correct. Terence Crutcher was a Black man murdered by the police in Tulsa, OK last Friday (yes, Oklahoma, the same state where former Oklahoma City Daniel Holtzclaw sexually assaulted 13 Black woman). He was tasered, then fatally shot. The Tulsa Police Department released the video tape of his death was released today, and right before Terence was killed, a police officer said “That looks like a bad dude, too.” I would like to point out: Terence did not have a weapon on him, or in his car. When he stepped out of his vehicle, he had his hands up. The police still killed him. I would also like to point out: he was on the middle of the road because his car broke down.

Yesterday, I learned that Keith Lamont Scott was shot and murdered by the police in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police reported him coming out of his car with a handgun, and said they gave him multiple warnings to drop his gun. His family reported that Scott was disabled, and he was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son to head out to school. The mayor is telling protesters in Charlotte to be “calm, ” and the police wants people to know that what the police are investigating looks different than what’s said on social media. Never mind that many a White terrorist with guns have been taken in alive. Never mind that police can’t confirm if he did indeed point a gun at them.

Last Wednesday, Tyre King was murdered by the police in Columbus, Ohio. He was 13 years old, and was fatally shot three times because he pulled out a handgun out of his waistband. That turned out to be an air pistol. Two things: Tyre was less than 5 feet tall, and weighed less than 100 pounds. It’s reported that any one of the three shots could have killed him. Also, the police were after Tyre King because they said he matched a description of robbery suspects (And as you read up, Keith was also known to be holding a gun when he exited his car). Last time I talked about Alton Sterling on Facebook, a Becky got up in my post about “supporting a criminal.” I don’t have much patience for that nonsense this time around, especially since Tyre was just a baby at 13. So I’m just going to put this here:

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Whew. Okay.

I’ve heard microaggressions described as “death by a 1000 paper cuts” (Nadal et al., 2011, p. 234). When we quote this, we often talk about how racial microaggressions “create a hostile and invalidating climate for people of color, saps their spiritual and psychic energies, and their cumulative nature can result in depression, frustration, anger, rage, loss of self esteem, anxiety, etc” (Sue, 2007). They’re a big deal to individuals who have to go through bullshit upon daily bullshit, so to say microaggressions aren’t a big deal is to completely dismiss the experience of marginalized folks.

But we need to remember with the “death by a 1000 paper cuts” metaphor, microaggressions could actually lead to just that: death. Because police aren’t just killing us out of nowhere. The police officer who claimed Terence was a “bad dude” didn’t just wake up that day thinking Black men look like bad men. The police officers who determined a <100 pound teenager a threat didn’t start believing that Black children could carry a handgun and be monsters five minutes before Trye was killed.  The police officers who shot Keith to death didn’t instantly have a shoot-to-kill bias against Black men. There’s previous, deep-seated bias that led the cops to think Black men/teens=scary=less than human=kill them . And often times, these biases first manifest themselves into microaggressions before they snowball into full-blown aggression. When we ignore racial microaggressions, or say they’re not a big deal, we’re giving permission to these biases. We’re saying that it’s okay to treat folks of color as less than human, or not normal. We’re essentially laying the groundwork.

No, the act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as touching our hair. The act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as mistaking us for another Black person. The act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as thinking my name isn’t “normal” isn’t the same as ignoring me at the grocery store isn’t the same as dressing in Black face for Halloween. Congratulations for figuring that out. And guess what? I, and others who often experience microaggressions know that too, so don’t patronize us by pointing this out.

But let’s stop pretending this issues are so far removed from each other, spinning in opposite orbits in different planets. We work to stop racial microaggressions to make sure people of color can belong, and so others can stop seeing us as less than human. Because, as we’ve seen today, this week, and time and time again, the consequences for institutions–such as the criminal system–assuming we are less than human  are potentially fatal. The question “microaggressions aren’t important, so why are we even discussing them” is totally ignorant of this fact. And, quote honestly, the “they aren’t as bad as xyz” point/question is one people make usually because they have a tough time letting go of their racist-ass behaviors.

I will entertain all other questions on microaggressions. But don’t you dare try to tell me that they aren’t a big deal. And don’t you dare use the bodies of slain folks of color to make your point.

#StayMad, Commenters

Pacific Lutheran University, my place of employment (Go Lutes!), recently hired Rae Linda Brown as the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. To put it eloquently, Rae Linda Brown is a baddie. She earned both her M.A. in African American Studies and Music and Ph.D. in Musicology from Yale, served extensively in multiple academic affairs positions at different institutions, and is gearing up to do big things at PLU. Every time I see her around campus, I want to tell her how awesome she is. Actually, I do try and tell her that, but it always comes out awkward because I’m awkward, and I think she thinks I’m kinda weird. Also, throughout this article, I will be referring to Rae Linda Brown only as Rae Linda Brown, because not using the full 13 letters seems wrong. Put some respeck on her name, please.

Recently, PLU published an article on Rae Linda Brown’s upcoming strategies for enhancing the school’s academy excellence, specifically, her call to diversify our very white faculty and staff. If you have time, read the whole article here. It has some fantastic gems, including:

“We cannot expect to recruit and retain students of color if the academic climate is not welcoming to them,” [Rae Linda Brown] said in her speech. “We cannot expect to be an institution of excellence if voices are absent from the community.”

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Of course, not everyone is thrilled about this, and when PLU posted the article on its Facebook page, some people were mad. They came ready with their thesis statements on why they thought Rae Linda Brown was full of it. White tears came to play, because obviously we can’t have nice things when White fragility is threatened.

Honestly, it’s upsetting to see people so distraught over the idea of hiring staff and faculty of color, but it’s not new. Whenever institutions, especially institutions of higher education, try and create plans in place to hire more people of color, there are always those who cry “unfair affirmative action.” Instead of coming out right and acknowledging White Supremacy and their own subconscious desire to have a majority White faculty and staff body because they’re the worst its role in creating a lack of educators of color at universities and colleges, they make excuses on why focusing on diversity in hiring practices is awful. There are typically a few of the same arguments* that come out of the woodwork when we talk about any school hiring more diverse staff and faculty, and many of them presented themselves in the comments on Facebook.

*In fact, I’m being generous by calling them “arguments,” because Webster’s Dictionary defines “argument” as “a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion,” and some of these comments are absolutely not that.

Argument 1: It shouldn’t matter what color people are, but only if the faculty are excellent.

Yes, faculty should be great. The goal isn’t to hire terrible faculty. But why is hiring faculty of color mutually exclusive with hiring amazing faculty? Is it so hard to believe there are some fantastic professors and staff who aren’t White?

And I hate to break it to you…but it actually does kind of matter. I want to stress: our staff and faculty are very White. So White, we could have a collection of “So White/How White jokes” devoted to the lack of melanin. I can’t think of any at the moment. But what I can tell you is we have 35% students of color (and 41% are first generation college students), and we miiiiight have 15% staff and faculty of color. Maybe. We know that students of color need faculty and staff of color, both for mentorship opportunities, and for the feeling of belonging that comes from seeing someone who looks like you in a position of educational power. How can we serve students of color when the possibility of them going through PLU without seeing a single faculty of color in the classroom is high?

And p.s., yes, that hyper-underlined sentence in the middle of the previous paragraph contains nine different articles supporting my claim that students of color need faculty of color for support (and there are easily dozens more). I come with my receipts ready to go.

Argument 2: Race is a social construct, we are all #oneloveoneraceoneskinonemind, and by talking about diversity, you are the racist.

Yes, yes, the modern day, scientific “I don’t see color.” Race is a social construct. And guess who made it a social construct? Hint: it wasn’t the black and brown bodies that were colonized, enslaved, murdered, and/or ignored proper medical treatment. I don’t ever want to hear or see the phrase “race is a social construct”, unless it’s followed up by “and because it was a social construct designed by European and White folks, a group of people with structural power, the negative impacts, prejudice, and racism that come with this man-created hierarchy are very real.” Because “racism as a social construct” does not equal “there is no racism, and no need to hire faculty or staff of color.”

Also, I’m perplexed why highlighting diversity automatically means we’re causing a divide, and how “seeing color” is “racism.” Okay. Also, let me not catch you using all your breath to cry “racism” when we’re talking about hiring more folks of color, but then staying silent when people of color are slain by the police. 🐸☕️

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Yes, I have used this gif around 20 times in previous posts. I will never not use this gif. I will be using this gif ’till the day I stop grinding. I don’t even know if it quite makes sense in this placement here, and I don’t care. This little boy is life.

Argument #3: We need to be able to understand our faculty!

As a daughter of immigrant parents, this one especially boils my blood. The argument is that sometimes, when we hire global scholars, they aren’t good teachers because English is their second language, or they don’t speak English in the “correct” way. This is the worst dot com backslash this is ridiculous.

  1. Why don’t we celebrate people’s ability to speak more than one language? Especially if the faculty or staff just came from another country where they had the opportunity to speak in their native tongue. In fact, we should do more than celebrate, we should be in awe. The ability to teach in a language that isn’t your first-learned language is an incredible skill.
  2. The fact that we say “we can’t understand” someone because they don’t speak English they way YOU understand it is so far rooted in US-centrism and Whiteness, it makes me sick. Why is there only one way certain way to speak a language, to pronounce certain words? And why is it that Americans, and often, White folk, get to decide the pronunciation?

A thousand petty prayers upon whoever makes argument.

Argument 4: Random “points” that have nothing to do with ANYTHING.

I.e., in this case, someone took the time to comment how “sad” they were that PLU graduated students who “no longer put their faith in God” but become “atheists.” They took the time, however, to pray that PLU students “return to their Christian roots,” though, so. Thank you for your kindness, I guess.

If three plus seven equals tree, and Kim Kardashian eats peaches, then is there no place for God at PLU? Oh, what? That sentence doesn’t make any sense, nor is it pertinent to my point? Huh. HOW WEIRD. What fight are you even fighting here? I don’t think you read through the prompt, let alone took the time to study for the right quiz (I guess, in my analogy, the quiz being “Let’s Get Mad About Hiring More People of Color”). And why do I get the feeling that even if you were on a relevant track, you’d still be wrong?

The vindictive cousin of Argument #4 is “Attacking the person in the article by using racist statements that have no place anywhere, let alone this comment section” (like for example, oh, getting so mad over a reboot of a movie because your nerd-masculinity is so easily broken, you end up calling a Black woman an ape). Luckily, the comments didn’t veer that way. And you don’t know how mad I am at myself, and society, that I actually typed out that last sentence. Like, “whew. Okay. The comments were terrible, but at least no one called Rae Linda Brown a racial slur publicly on Facebook.” I don’t think I’d expect that from PLU community members; then again, I have been unpleasantly surprised time and time again.

I’m not going to waste any more of my time on those enrolled in the Abigail Fisher School of Being Upset That Someone Wants to Make a Place for People of Color in Higher Education. All I can say is, if you’re mad that a school wants to hire more educators of color, I need you to take a critical look inward and ask yourself why.

And of course, keep embodying #BlackExcellence, Rae Linda Brown.

But could we all vote, though?

Women’s Equality Day is creep creep creeping around the corner, a date I almost forgot until I saw a post on a Facebook page. According to the National Women’s History Project, August 26 is “the date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.”

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That’s cute. First, of all, the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, so I don’t know where this new date comes into play. But besides that, I want to make something very clear:

  1. Women’s Equality does NOT celebrate the right for all women to vote. Let’s get this right. The minute the 19th Amendment was passed might have”legally” been for all women, but it was truly not the same minute, day, year, or decade all women of color could vote in this country. Thanks to some awesome disenfranchisement methods, it is only when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed that more people in our country could vote. Check out this handy dandy U.S. Voting Rights Timeline if you don’t believe me.
  2. Additionally, the suffragettes of lore were hella racist. As in, they were proud White supremacists. Proud White supremacists that forced Black women to march in the back. But of course, depending on where you go to school, educators won’t bring this up when you a baby glimpse of it in Iron Jawed Angels (it’s almost like the U.S. school system is run by White supremacy and privilege or something).

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I say this because I’m sure, like last year, Facebook is going to create a cutesy graphic with women of all races celebrating August 26, without acknowledging that only White women could vote when the 19th Amendment passed. And without fail, some White feminists will add some sort of pro-Women’s Equality Day post, and then get mad when someone calls it out. I can already see the “why are you dividing the movement?” comments, and it makes my blood boil. Girl, I’m not dividing the feminist movement; your refusal to name the exclusivity of the 19th Amendment and voter laws is doing the job!

I also say this because this is yet another blatant reminder of how WhiteFeminism™ refuses to acknowledge any intersectionality in the feminist movement, and SAYS THAT WE’RE THE ONES CAUSING TROUBLE when we critique the “equality for some” notion of feminism. And then refuses to stand up for anyone who, well, isn’t a White woman. For example, I think about the misogynistic hate crimes Leslie Jones is receiving, as her White co-stars sit in radio silence, with nary a mention of solidarity. I’m not saying the ones most responsible are not the racist fuckboys who are sending her hateful tweets and hacking her website (because White masculinity is so fragile, they  can’t handle a reboot of Ghostbusters. It is amazing how quickly racism and sexism comes into play when men feel their “nerd space” is “threatened.”) But I’m also asking… Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon. You self-proclaimed feminists. Where you at?

#sorrynotsorry if you think I’m being hateful. I think it’s hateful when one doesn’t want to admit to the whitewashing of history. And just know that if you can’t stand for all women (women of color, poor women, undocumented women, queer women, trans women, women with disabilities, womyn/womxn, women who fit all and any of these identities and more), and then get mad when we point out the inequalities in your feminist movement, you didn’t really want equity, did you? In a marginalized group, you just wanted to be on top. You just wanted things to be equal for those that look like you.


Shout-out to those who still cannot vote, such as undocumented individuals, those who are convicted of a felony, individuals in U.S. territories, those who do not have access to polling stations, those suppressed by voter ID laws, and more. In the spirit of what I just wrote, if I am forgetting a group please let me know. Also, shout-out to the baddest b, Ida B. Wells, who refused to march in the back during the 1913 suffrage parade and instead slipped into the Illinois delegation after the parade started. For the person who wrote the Wikipedia page for Iron Jawed Angels: I hope you meant the way Wells and Paul had the conversation during the 1913 march is fictionally portrayed in the movie, and not that Ida B. Wells marching into the Illinois delegation is fictional. If you meant the latter, know that Ida B. Wells is giving you side-eye from the grave, and is better than you.

White Thug Lochte, Super-Human Gabby Douglas, and the Dominant Narrative at the Rio Olympics

For this blog post, we had the amazing Bianca “Call me Beyonce” Bellot write her thoughts. Bianca, who was a member of our SAHE cohort, is one of the wokest people we know, and we’re so excited for you all to read her piece! 

The Olympic Games in Rio were packed with both sexism and racism. As a queer woman of color, I felt both excited to watch the games unfold, and I had a shield up for good reason. I sat with my computer, angered as I read the initial coverage on white thug Lochte’s fake robbery. I grew angrier when the media laughed at his criminal activity and overt lies. And I really lost it when 20 year old, three-time Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, was made to apologize for not smiling enough.

I am tired of entitled straight white men stealing the spotlight in sports. I am also tired of women of color being held to different standards and expectations in U.S. society, and in the Olympic arena. So to give credit where it is due, Gabby Douglas is an incredible super-human gymnast. She is unapologetically beautiful. She is unapologetically strong. She has been on the U.S.A national gymnastics team since she was 13, has three Olympic gold medals, three world championship medals, and several national medals. I am tired of journalists critiquing her African American hair and make-up and distracting the larger audience from her accomplishments. I am tired of the requests for her to apologize.

For those who are not bothered, you are not paying attention. Let me be real, white privilege is when a white male enters a foreign country, kicks down a bathroom door in a gas station, pisses all over the place, breaks the soap dispenser, gets into a belligerent fight with a security officer, attempts to leave without paying for the damage, and creates a detailed story about being robbed at gunpoint. An Olympic spokesperson (Mario Andrada) referred to Lochte as a kid who made a mistake. No.  Lochte is a grown 32 year old man. If Gabby needs to smile more, Lochte has a lot of work to do.

Lochte will not be held accountable. He is busy tweeting about what color he should dye his hair next. In his less than weak apology, he did not apologize for his actions. Lochte referenced his experience as “traumatic” and said he was sorry for taking attention from other athletes. I am not okay with his criminal behaviors, sappy story, and all the privilege that will afford him to go on and live a luscious life.

Racism is when Gabby Douglas did not put her hand over her heart during the national anthem and is ridiculed, bullied, and put to shame in casual conversations and in the wide-spread media. She needed to publicly apologize for being perceived as jealous of her teammates. Her apology may have saved her fame as some viewers felt she owed it to her country. White privilege is when two white male Olympic shot-putters (Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovaks) also did not put their hands over their hearts during the national anthem, and no one batted an eyelash. No one noticed. People were waiting for Gabby to make a mistake and they found an unreasonable opportunity to put her down instead of celebrating her successes. This is not a person of color’s issue. This is not a woman’s issue. This is everyone’s issue.

While I struggle to understand ways we can dismantle a long standing history of racism and sexism in this country, I believe we need to stop being complacent. I do not want to hear another excuse for a white man acting thoughtless or criminal, unless that is a set standard for all. I will not laugh at Lochte’s “childish” behaviors. I cannot stand watching people of color be torn apart as we inch towards success, while the stories of white individuals are consistently celebrated. This is everyone’s issue.

Bike locks, hate crimes…and dating?

I came across a Washington Post article  titled “No hate crime convictions for white San Jose State students who clamped black roommate in bike lock.” If you think I almost flipped over a table before I finished reading, you’d be correct. It’s been a while since I read the article, but I am still boiling mad, so here you go. Also, I had two separate thoughts, and the other piece is here:  Bike locks, hate crimes, and the casualness towards black bodies.

During Fall 2013, Donald Williams Jr, a Black then-freshman student at San Jose State University, was heavily harassed by his White roommates.And when I say “heavily harassed,” I mean they did things like put his neck in a bike lock. Among other things. Yes. Among other racist things. A few weeks ago, the Santa Clara County Jury found the roommates guilty of a misdemeanor, but not a hate crime. Because, of course, these nice young men’s actions have nothing to do with race! They’re just friendly pranks!

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One of the arguments in the case? One of the roommates, Colin Warren couldn’t be racist, because he was “dating an African American woman and did not want his relationship to end.” Yes, this was an actual sentence in the article, an actual ARGUMENT in the case. Although you, Warren, called your roommate multiple racial slurs and put him in a LOCK, you’re obviously immune to racism because you have a Black girlfriend. Go ahead, Warren! Assume you’re not guilty.

Dear White suitors near and far (and, I guess, attorneys of White suitors): We, your significant others and/or dates of color, are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. Please don’t use us as mere pawns to defend your racism, as excuses to say ridiculous things and be extremely offensive. Just stop.

Dating us will never make it okay to say racist slurs. Being with us does not mean you’ve evolved, that you’ve done all the self work, that you’re now the perfect allies to all people of color. And for God’s sake, being our partners does not mean you’re “basically ____” or “pretty much ____” or “____er than us!” Sleeping with us doesn’t grant you an understanding into our struggles, just as me sleeping with a neurosurgeon does not make me qualified to operate on brains. Your privilege does not disappear. Please own this.

We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. We are not badges you can wear, not a get-out-of-jail card so people can ignore your prejudice. You cannot do something, such as, I don’t know, LOCK YOUR BLACK ROOMMATE IN A U-LOCK or WRITE THE N-WORD ON HIS WHITEBOARD, and expect not to be held responsible for your hate crimes because you happen to take us out to dinner. No, no no.

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Honestly, the argument Warren’s attorney presented in court is baffling (and upsetting, and just plain dumb), but I’m honestly not surprised the attorney tried to use this. Claiming Warren couldn’t be racist because he had a Black girlfriend has the similar distinct melody of  “I’m not racist, I have Black friends, ” or “How can I be racist when my second-cousin’s best friend’s Asian ex-boyfriend is great and we’ve talked three times and I’m planning on inviting him to my book group I’M A GOOD PERSON.” As if being kind to one person or knowing one person makes you immune to racism towards anyone else. Not only does this make sense, but it also tokenizes your boo/friend/squash partner of color. You’re saying that they are some kind of trump card to distance yourself from the word “racist” without examining the impact of your actions.

But we’re not trump cards. We are human.

We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance.

For an on-point article with a similar topic, please read “F*cking a Black Person Does Not Mean You Fight For Black Lives.” As the title suggests, no. No it does not.

Let them be great: A criticism on those criticizing solidarity

Or, as our good friend Niamh put it in a Facebook message: “cc: all the jerkfaces on that beautiful CSU Mizzou solidarity post from the Colorado State University account.”

Yesterday, CSU Solidarity with Mizzou Protests (a group formed from Colorado State University) held a rally to show support for the Black students facing death threats at Mizzou. I repeat, awesome and aware students at Ashleigh’s and my alma mater took the time to organize a protest and stand with students at Mizzou. My happiness level skyrocketed to the thousands when I saw this.

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Colorado State posted a picture on their Facebook page of over 100 students rallying together, holding a sign that read “CSU Stands with Mizzou. Black Students Matter.” The sight of these Rams protesting against the injustice and terrorism of Black Mizzou students IN FRONT OF THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING warmed my heart. The fact that CSU posted this on their official Facebook page warmed my heart even more.

But apparently, I can’t just sit and bask in proud alumna joy and have nice things, so I was also privy to the amount of ignorant comments left on the photo’s page. Some pulled quotes include:

“All students matter. This is only helping segregation and racism continue. I love my school but this makes me sad.”

“Get to class all of you, as you have much to learn before you enter the real world! All lives, and the well being of ALL students at CSU matter!”

“Scratch CSU from list of schools for my son to attend.”

“ALL student lives matter. My alumni donations are now on hold. Be better, CSU.”

“This is why I don’t donate to the university.”

Etc. Etc. These are only a few of the ones I immediately saw, and I’m sure there are a whole slew of others, but I refuse to dig through the shit anymore today. After reading the 20th negative rant, my spirit broke and I just stopped reading the comment section.

It’s sad that at this point in my life, I am no longer surprised when people turn a good thing around and come in with their racist two cents. Like I told Ashleigh, we barely had time to rejoice about Mizzou’s president resigning before all the threats started coming in. Of course we’d barely have time to get excited about student activism and solidarity. We live in a world where people have to protest the protesting of injustice because for two seconds, we are not focusing on their Whiteness.

However. We also live in a world where a group of dedicated students are taking a stand against the racism going on at Mizzou. We live in a world where these students are supported by faculty and staff, including the university president. We live in a world where official Facebook pages of universities refuse to take down pictures of this show of support, no matter how loud others threaten with their words and donation funds.

So to the alumni who’s sad that students are showing support to students at Mizzou: this rally isn’t furthering racism. Your comment is doing that on its own. I’m not quite sure how this show of solidarity and fight against racism is going to further racism, but. Okay. You tried it, I guess.

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To the misguided alumni who is urging these students to “get to class:” please understand that in the “real world,” students of color either have the choice to keep quiet and experience racism, or stand up for themselves and receive death threats and even more racism. All humans lives are important, but when it’s shown time and time again that White lives matter the most, you’re going to have to forgive us for demanding that our lives, Black lives, matter as well.

To angry alumni who threaten to stop “giving back” to CSU: Just stop. Oh my God, please stop. Please keep your money. I am so tired of alumni saying they are going to pull funds away when a school decides to give a voice to marginalized students. I am sick of alumni using money when they’re upset that students are protesting for some semblance of equity. And I’m upset that I’ve seen places where institutions actually make decisions because a group of alumni who went to school are mad that students are fighting for change. Time and time again, I’ve seen alumni donations trump student protests against racist institutionalized practices. So I urge Colorado State to keep supporting  CSU Solidarity with Mizzou Protests. And to the alumni who talk and threaten and show ignorance with their money, please just keep your dollars and your children and your donations. Or better yet, understand why Black student lives matter, continue to donate, and come join us.

CSU Stands with Mizzou. It’s time for you to get on board.

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You better preach, commenter. You. Better. Preach.