I’ve finally unburied myself from the piles of snow left by a snowpocalyptic winter and resurfaced into this world. And now I wish I hadn’t.
Seriously, for six or so weeks, I was quasi-ignorant to the news, politics and all the fun stuff that comes with that. And it was bliss. Of course, this is only partially because of the snow and partially because of the many privileges I have that enable me to disconnect from most of the world’s trauma, violence and oppression whenever I please. But I digress.
My point is that I turned on CNN this morning and saw what appeared to be a mob of white men chanting racial slurs and talk of nooses. It was disgusting. And I was horrified by the headline flashing on the screen, asking if the University of Oklahoma has a race problem?
I mean, clearly racial issues are at the surface there now. But that question totally misses the actual issues, which is that this world, especially the United States has a “race problem” aka systems built on institutional racism and white supremacy. What happened at that frat in Oklahoma is a (terrifying) consequence of living in an extremely racist, supremacist country. Paying attention to scary acts of white supremacism is important but singling them out to appear as isolated events, rather than part of a much bigger, problematic and intentional racist society is just irresponsible and dangerous.
As a white woman, I was sickened by what I saw. I cannot imagine how horrifying it must be for someone of color, especially African Americans, to see that video. For African Americans have bravely spoken out about the realities of being black in a white supremacist society. And it sounds terrifying. So to see a bunch of young white men behaving that way – I just can’t imagine. And for young, black men and their loved ones who are all too aware of police brutality and the too many young men of color who have been killed by those who are supposedly there to protect – for them to see such a video, it must be awful and terrifying.
And to the mainstream media – to see such a video of young college men acting so terribly, violently racist and then suggest that that college perhaps has a problem is to only add to the actual problem of racism. It is to deflect responsibility and ignore white privilege and institutional racism. And it is not okay to do that. Because we’re never going to have a just and equal society until white people are truly accountable to their privilege.