Opinion
Don’t tell marginalized students what to feel, listen to them
Old Gold & Black
By
Staff Columnist
Friday, October 6, 2017

I was pretty annoyed while writing each of my opinion pieces. Even though I love to express politics and try to bring attention to issues that many others don’t see, I’m still frustrated by one thing: people refuse to listen.

It doesn’t matter what logic I use. It doesn’t matter the personal anecdotes that I include. It doesn’t matter if what I’m saying has been backed up by people who know much more than I do. People still don’t listen.

Last week, my opinion piece discussed the NFL National Anthem protests andthe ways in which the rhetoric used by President Trump was not only unpresidential, but it also had strong racial undertones. At the end of my piece, I offered readers an invitation to email me for clarification or comments if they disagreed or were offended by what I said. I was so excited when I actually got an email because I’m not used to hearing of any students actually reading the Old Gold and Black. That excitement quickly turned into annoyance.

As I should’ve expected, the person tried to tell me that Trump’s remarks weren’t because of race, and that racism is quote, “an insignificant minority.” Sigh.

The response to my column exemplifies what I mean when I say people don’t listen. Granted, I’m well aware that I attend a $70,000 a year institution and many of my peers come from affluent, privileged backgrounds and have never known adversity because of their skin color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background. However, I have seen, felt and been slapped in the face with discriminatory adversity because of almost all of the above.

To be clear, I have no animosity or prejudicial views of white people. I know that if I were to say, “I hate white people,” I’d be just as ignorant as a white person saying, “I hate black people.” What I’m upset about is that too many privileged white people tell me and other people belonging to marginalized groups that we’re being oversensitive and find some way to justify an injustice that we face that they never will have to worry about in their lives.

To be clear, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, Islamphobia and other forms of hate haven’t gone anywhere. Just because discrimination laws have been passed, doesn’t mean that these things disappeared. They’ve just been quiet.

As I’ve had to explain to many people, just because you don’t see neo-Nazis and Klansmen running around screaming slurs every day, doesn’t mean that they aren’t here and marginalized groups aren’t still suffering from their hateful views. Systemic oppression isn’t as overt as it used to be, but it’s still here. To tell minority groups that it doesn’t exist or it wasn’t that big of a deal is blatantly disrespectful and the reason why oppression is still in place.

Do not tell minority groups what they should and shouldn’t find offensive. Don’t tell minority groups that something isn’t racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. just because you don’t have a true understanding of what those things are and the many forms that they can come in. Don’t tell someone that they should respect the leader of a country who disrespects the very existence of people based on their race, sex, class and sexual orientation.

Rather than doing everything you can to justify injustice and bring out “evidence” that is supposed to prove that hate isn’t prevalent in America, shut up and listen. Then, after you become informed on these types of things, find out ways to help. It’s literally the least you could do.