Yesterday, a number of students got together for a very civil demonstration of support for the Multicultural House (see all this editorial) on my campus. The anger and hurt was palpable, and in this article was given voice by an American physician:
Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it — this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. “White privilege” was on display, palpable to passersby who consoled me. I’ve come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds. In these crystallizing moments it is clear that while I might see myself as just another all-American gal who has great affection for this country, others see me as something less than human, more now than ever before.
At the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Police Department sent 80 police officers to shut down a campus-registered party with mostly black students attending, while allowing another party across the street with mostly white students was allowed to continue. Last weekend, we had a similar incident (but not at the same scale, obviously) where a Black Student Coalition House party scheduled to end at 2:00am was shut down at 1:30am; in our case, however, after initial questions from our students why they had to shut down early while the other predominantly white parties could continue, the campus police shut down all the parties early.
While these isolated incidents are not directly connected, all are symptoms of our failure in American culture to address the issues of difference that divide us. We continue to have these issues paved over by resolving smaller conflicts while not addressing the fundamental issue of how power is shared beyond its traditional privileged groups. We are again back to debates of being in a post-racial society after Barack Obama’s historic election to the American presidency, mostly because this is an issue that people largely do not want to talk about.