We Too Are Angry

By Guest Contributor

It seems each week there is a new article in the Campus that has dangerous implications. These articles are the mouthpiece of hegemonic ideology — dominant discourse — that challenge the legitimacy of marginalized groups’ liberation movements. It is impossible to respond to each prejudice, though someone always responds to the articles — whether it be “Chris” calling out the racism of typical campus speakers and events or the Midd Included group defending their effort to adjust the eurocentricity of Middlebury’s curriculum. However, I don’t think we always have to be on the defensive. I write this article to encourage us to be the first to publish our opinions and to start to wage a comprehensive battle to frame our pressing issues in terms of their racism, cissexism, classism, imperialism and misogyny in order to start to promote our epistemology and our politics. I refuse to be constantly put on the defensive – pointing out the flaws in the arguments that others make. There are plenty of people at this school who feel similarly to me, albeit for different reasons. We are angry, and to the extent that the Campus can accommodate our dissidence and our dissent, I say we start to use it to publish our accounts of pressing issues before Nathan Weil beats us to the punch.

I do not wish to respond to “Jared Leto and the Thought Police” in full. However, it is necessary to call attention to the misunderstandings of racism and anti-racism in the piece: racism is not having a lack of empathy for people of color. In fact, racism is a complex mechanism of systematic subordination. It operates through institutions such as elite colleges and SAT tests, the prison-industrial complex and housing policy, through an unequal distribution of wealth along racial lines and other statistical inequalities, through controlling images that secure stereotypes in our national imagination, as well as through interpersonal bias and internalized notions of inferiority. To reduce racism to lack of empathy — and to believe that anti-racism amounts to developing empathy (though this may play a part) — is to laugh in the face of centuries of oppression and continuing violence. Similarly, to imply that straight people accomplish trans and gay activism when they agree to play a queer character in a movie is to trivialize real issues such as LGBT homelessness and the violence faced by trans women in which we are all complicit.

The conversations around race, gender, class and sexuality at Middlebury tend to get locked into defending progressive beliefs against dominant beliefs, but I do not want to be having these conversations that Nathan Weil starts. There is a lot happening on campus, and I think we should use this activism as a way to set the terms of the conversations, rather than accept the terms that are set for us. For instance, the Gender, Sexuality and Feminist studies department has been actively hosting events; JusTalks has run successfully for the second-year; the Posse Plus retreat has again honored issues relating to identity-based oppression; Sadé Williams’ produced a performance of For Colored Girls; the African American Alliance and other cultural advocacy organizations single-handedly organized Black History Month programming; a new student-led coalition for Racial and Economic Justice is starting; Midd Included has brought new life to a decade-old effort to change Middlebury’s Eurocentric curriculum; MiddSafe has launched a sexual assault hotline; other unnamed, daily efforts prevail. This campus activism shows that there are progressive-minded individuals who are working to change the culture, climate and policies of Middlebury College. Using these activisms as a starting point, I call for us to start writing, framing issues that are important to us as we see them, using mediums such as the Campus to influence campus life and thought, and doing so before opinions antithetical to our lives are published.

LILY ANDREWS ’14 is from Minneapolis, Minn. The undersigned students add their names in support: Alex Jackman ’14, Alex Strott ’15, Alice Oshima ’15, Ally Yanson ’14, Daniela Barajas ’16, Feliz Baca ’14, Ian Stewart ’14, India Huff ’15, Jackie Park ’15, Kate McCreary ’15, Katie Willis ’13, Lily Andrews ’14, Marcella Maki ’14, and Molly Stuart ’15.5. Artwork by SAMANTHA WOOD.

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