During the past few weeks, I have seen troubling responses to the college student movement against racism on campus.

On Monday, Nov. 23, Mark LaFlamme published an article, “At college campuses, it’s ‘The Crucible’ all over again.” Words cannot begin to describe how incorrect LaFlamme was in analyzing the racial issues across this nation. As an African American and supporter of the People of Color at Ithaca College movement, this is an issue I hold closely.

LaFlamme claims that the “insults” directed toward students were “phantom.” This is a narrative that the oppressors, particularly those who are white, have continuously tried to create. Yet, on Missouri’s campus, a student used feces to draw a swastika on the wall of a residence hall and a white student posted on Yik Yak saying, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

Similar threats have been made on campuses nationwide, including Ithaca College. The occurrences of racism go far beyond those highlighted by the media.

This is not about stomping feet to avoid hurt feelings. For some, it is about life and death. It is about a long history of explicit racism that has occurred on campuses in which there is zero education, accountability and retribution from institutional leaders.

The notion that college presidents and chancellors are being forced to resign is false, as students cannot force anyone to do so. However, the power behind the legitimacy of those protests makes an incredibly compelling argument that those administrators should resign if they can’t hold racist individuals accountable.

The lack of action and accountability from institutional administrators is emblematic of the issues beyond campuses.

For example, citizens of Chicago have long been demanding accountability with police officers. The indictment of the killer of Laquan McDonald for murder serves as an example of the first order.

Many individuals suggest People of Color take actions into their own hands with violence. But even if POC decided to fight racism with violence, we would then subject ourselves to a historically corrupt and racist law enforcement and judicial system.

Drawing back to LaFlamme’s article, to suggest that these protests are impromptu “howls” displays a lack of historical education and understanding. We are not animals. We are not diluting the issue. We are making individuals aware of everyday systematic racism and ignorance.

It becomes incredibly frustrating when a white individual analyzes the campus and national movements uninformed. Further, white people have no right or business validating or, in this case, invalidating the experiences of POC.

By invalidating the experiences of POC, you inherently silence our voices and, ultimately, add to the problem instead of working to solving it.

Elijah Breton, Poland


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