Oberlin in Solidarity

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I usually refrain from posting personal things on this blog, but given the importance of this event in my life, the history of my college, Oberlin, and the general trend of hate-speech which has been prevalent just within the year 2013, I feel the need to talk about it.

Oberlin College is known as one of the first institutions of higher learning to admit African American students. Oberlin College is known for being a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Last night, a person wearing KKK regalia was spotting on Oberlin campus, near Afrikan Heritage House. This is the culminating event in series of racist, homophobic hate-speech related events that have occurred on campus within the past month.

Now Oberlin College is known as a campus full of hate.

We are known nationally, through the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/education/oberlin-cancels-classes-after-series-of-hate-related-incidents.html?_r=1

Half-truths are being spread on popular social sites. http://gawker.com/5988307/oberlin-cancels-classes-after-figure-in-kkk-robes-spotted-near-african-heritage-house

As I walk around campus I wonder, is the person across the street responsible? Do I know the people responsible for this hate? Other Obies are implicated simply by walking the wrong direction, away from the solidarity events around campus. I myself am not walking to the event, so does that implicate me? The distrust these events has stirring within the campus community upsets and confuses me.

But, do people know that Oberlin isn’t the only one experiencing hateful events?

  • February 22nd 2013, Grand Forks, North Dakota- a group high school students wore KKK robes and hoods to a hockey game.
  • February 26th 2013, Memphis, Tennessee- A KKK chapter was granted a demonstration permit to have a public protest against the renaming of three Memphis parks that honored the Confederacy and two of its most prominent figures.
  • March 2nd 2013, Grand Haven Township, Michigan- federal investigation begins on a series of “race related incidents” which included a student wearing KKK apparel to school.

WE ARE NOT ALONE.

We are not a novelty, a problem to be fixed. Hate-speech is a relavent issue still, in this day and age. We may be moving through a new century, but our society is not leaving behind our old issues. As a country we continue to perpetuate racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, and sexist views, to name only a few.

But what can we do to stop this trend? How do we acknowledge a problem which seems impossible to fix?

I am by no means an expert. I know no better how to deal with this than Oberlin’s own administration, or the Oberlin Multicultural Resource Center. None of us know what is best to do. But we are taking action.

I cannot fail to emphasize how proud I am of Oberlin right now. We are demonstrating our infallibility as a community. We are uniting in solidarity, standing up for what we believe in, and listening to each other. Throughout the day a rally will occur, a poster-making extravaganza, a convocation event addressing hate-speech, and many other smaller community events.

My only worry is that these events are reactionary. We are hosting a Rally Against Hate. I know that righteous anger is an important element in the process of motivating a people to take action, but can it be transformed into something sustainable? Anger eventually runs of of steam. So,

What happens tomorrow?

Tomorrow, do we go back to classes and let this event fade into institutional memory? Tomorrow do we stop telling people that we as a community love and respect them? Tomorrow, do we stop being angry?

I want to stop reacting, and start preventing. But how can this be done?

My personal belief is that we need to rally for love, and peace, and acceptance. We need to rally around sustainable ideals.

I am rallying around and for my love of Oberlin College, and all of the Obies that I know.

I am rallying around the community I see everyday when I eat in my co-op. I am rallying around the group of extremely smart, accepting people who have supported me throughout my three years at this college.

If you have made it this far through my rant, thank you. Only by expressing myself logically can I begin to understand what these events mean to me, and how they will effect my life.

To my Obies – I respect you for who you are and who you want to be. I love you and I am so happy that you are in my life. You have changed my life in so many ways and I will forever be thankful for this college and the people I have found here.

  • 52 notes
  • 04 March 2013
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    I am deeply troubled by everything I read, even now so far away from campus. All of my love and support to all of my...
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