Let’s just get to it. There’s racial tension going on constantly. There are several examples of tension between racial groups, such as the Asian American Center reforms, the Blasian Narratives shin-dig, the Three Percent marches, etc. This column will focus on when white folks mess up.
Even though folks mean no harm, there’s a lot of racism on campus. For instance, when someone says to me, “Where are you really from?” or “You’re not truly Asian though,” or “I never would have guessed you were Asian!” I’m sure there was context behind what you said. You didn’t know that was offensive, you were just curious, and you just slipped up. Well, what’s next? Would you like to teach me about myself and my culture?
Let’s harken back to Halloween, only a few weeks ago. Halloween is a time for people to wear indigenous ponchos, tape their eyes to be more “squinty” and to paint their faces black. Let’s think about what dressing up as Pocahontas means. You love the movie; you know all the words to “Colors of the Wind.” That does not mean you can dress as Pocahontas. Sorry, not sorry. You are not Pocahontas. Your people did not face the atrocities of our government, who murdered indigenous folks through genocide.
Sure, Halloween is for fun and you can go have fun. However, you are wearing a costume; a costume is a display. You should not display a culture that is not yours and appropriate it to be hip. I do not care if you have the original dress made with authentic patterns. I do not care if you know the myths and stories of indigenous folks. That is not your story to showcase on Halloween. It’s not about you.
People of color (POC) face racism every single day of our lives. Assuming Halloween exempts people from their responsibilities is dangerous. It further perpetuates racism and allows people to believe their actions are okay. It does not matter if someone is trying to be racist or not. If folks are not intending to be racist, that does not mean their actions are not racist. If someone says something offensive unknowingly, the impact is still painful.
The focus should be on the impact rather than the intent. This is in regard to all oppression. If someone laughs along to a homophobic joke, they may not be intending to be homophobic, but they are supporting oppression. If someone appropriates a culture during Halloween in good fun, they are still appropriating and commodifying that culture. The impact is still detrimental.
Even if you don’t wear a sombrero, you can perpetuate racism. It’s not my job to educate you. The internet and all of its information are only a few clicks away. This is just on my mind lately. Maybe I’ll talk about this later on, maybe I won’t. I am more than my race if you didn’t know.
To all my POC folks out there, shout out for surviving in this school and making do with all you’ve got on your shoulders.