Racism on campus is exhausting.

By Emily Erskine

“Welcome Back Vikings,” one moment, white supremacists the next. I can’t help but feel absolutely exhausted. 

The cynical side of my brain bargains again and again that this is just a part of life in America for the foreseeable future. The optimistic side of my brain feels elated that we’ve gotten to the point in history where people actually want change. While the absolutely devastated part feels like nothing seems fair, and I don’t know why. 

There are more racists roaming the halls of Western since the last incidents of vandalism, and I wanted to be surprised, but I’m not. 

I see little to no representation in the staff at Western, I see a lack of diversity among my peers, and I certainly feel it when hate groups terrorize people in what is supposed to be a safe space. But what I am in desperate need of is conversation.

The obstacles faced by minorities on college campuses is something that I never hear talked about. The questions prompted on the application process to be admitted into a university encourage us to cut ourselves open and spill out our trauma for everyone to see. Only once our struggles are revealed, and how we “bravely overcame them” in the face of adversity, can we then attend an establishment that enables the abuse even more.

We shouldn’t have to feel targeted every single day just by existing in the same space as others, or carry a constant pressure to feel a certain way every time something like this happens. 

I came to Western for the culture. By culture, I mean the campy-outdoor ambiance, the cool punk-rock cadence everywhere you go and the ideologies of other students. But I can’t help but wonder if those ideologies extend to those of us who aren’t white. 

I want so badly to sit back and feel a lack of microaggressions, see more faces like mine and not feel worried about if the person I want to be my new friend will think I’m good enough or not. But now is not the time for ease and carelessness. Now is the time for uncomfortable dialogue and admitting when there are problems, like right this moment and the fact that a white supremacy group is getting away with hate while others sit back and watch. Now is the time to call people out, be self-aware about the comments you hear and consider the stakeholders.

Since clearly change is not happening within the departments at Western, maybe it’s time to make even more strides among students. 

Welcome back Vikings.

One comment

  • I grew up in a very mixed race neighborhood during the Civil Rights movement. Even though I hung out with a lot of kids of other races I was never made to feel inferior. If we were hanging at their house I ate with them. If we were hanging at my house they ate with me. I am grateful that my white skin never made a difference to anyone. We knew what was going on in the other parts of the country but it never affected us. I am grateful for the chance I had to just be kids playing. Not black and not white. Just kids.

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