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Letter to the Editor: Racism

Would you consider yourself to be white? Would you consider yourself a good person? Considering that the majority of students at Augustana are white, and hopefully good people, a fair majority of people reading this just answered yes to both.
Being white means that the protesters so many people were offended by were absolutely correct in telling you that you contributed to racism. A yes to both questions means you are white, you are privileged, you consider yourself a good person, and you factor in the oppression of people of color. I am white, I am privileged, I like to think I’m a good person, and I contribute to racism.
I didn’t realize the role I played when it came to racism. I have friends of multiple races, and have family members who are of mixed race. I truly believed that most white people were above racism. This is where I went wrong.
As one individual on Yik Yak stated, “Funny how racism wasn’t really existent at Augie until this protest.” As a white woman, I cannot claim to truly understand the lived experiences of a person of color. I can’t discuss how it feels like to be told I only got into college because of “reverse racism” instead of my academic ability. I can discuss my own white privilege. It is the privilege of not having to think about my race on a daily basis.
In response to the protests, someone wrote on Yik Yak, “Why are people mad at me for being ‘color blind’ isn’t that the goal?” Equality cannot be achieved if we are seeking to silence the voices of people who are oppressed and hurting.
Colorblindness cannot exist in a society where people are more psychologically “trained” to likely feel more threatened by a black man walking towards them in an alley than a white man.
By saying things like, “How about instead of #BlackLivesMatter, we try something like #AllLivesMatter. Because congratulations, you’ve just created an even bigger race gap. Preach equality- not this bullsh*t,” we are saying that all lives matter, but if you are hurt by racism and want to speak out we don’t want to hear you. How can we have equality when we don’t listen to, or believe, the realities of people of color?
We should be ashamed by our response to protests regarding race. I am ashamed of my own behavior. I claim that I “value diversity,” and yet I have not actively tried to combat my white privilege. If you are ashamed, you are beginning to realize that even though you may never have thought of yourself as racist, you factor in the oppression of people of color.
Perhaps you will stop and think before posting hurtful comments on anonymous media about protesters who were literally in tears, with their mouths taped, sharing a message they were passionate about.
Perhaps you will worry less about making it to class on time and worry more about twelve-year-old, Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police because he was holding a toy gun. I am glad that good people felt bad when being called racist by protesters, because they took it to heart and it made them feel ashamed.
– Jessica Bacon, senior elementary education major