What makes a ‘white bitch’ a hero?

READ Beth Rankin’s column.

After reading the comments following Beth Rankin’s column, we have come to the conclusion that racism is alive and well at Kent State. While these issues run deeper than the scope of Rankin’s column or even than the origins of Black United Students, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed.

At this current moment, Rankin is being hailed as some sort of heroine because she exposed the racist infrastructure that is known as Black United Students. However, how can anyone call Beth Rankin a hero?

Her actions weren’t heroic, they were cowardly. What did she do that was so heroic? The contradictory column that she claims was not meant to bash Black United Students was unethical, deceitful and ridiculous.

On March 26, BUS held a meeting to discuss the issue of racism on campus. At this meeting, it was exposed that all of Rankin’s alleged encounters with former BUS leadership were gross exaggerations at best. In her column, she cites Teddy Harris and DaMareo Cooper as racists; however, at the meeting she hailed them as allies. Hero? We think not. Perhaps she’s more of a hypocrite.

Webster’s defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Racism is not, and has never been the underlying philosophy of BUS. We do not promote or condone hate-speech or discrimination of any kind.

But Rankin has led people to believe that our organization is racist with unethical views; to this we say how dare you. How dare you lead people to believe that you are some sort of a hero?

In fact, this column has opened the door for racism to grow and foster. So instead of having a progressive conversation about racism and how to detract it from our environment, we are now seeing the real stances of students, local business-owners and others.

She gave you an excuse to scream angry racial slurs in cyber space. So now, instead of hiding behind white sheets, people are hiding behind computer screens. At our meeting, we challenged people to voice their honest opinions because we believe a large portion of the existing racial tensions stem from cultural misunderstandings. Instead of squashing the issues at the meeting, all of us merely became pawns in Beth’s plan to go out with a bang. We, as Black United Students, gave this young woman exactly what she wanted. She did not want to spark a conversation about race. In fact, she stated on KentNewsNet.com that her original intent was to bring to light “the fact that group [BUS] members, leaders and supporters have been notoriously racist over the years . and still to this day.”

There’s a slight problem with this statement. Beth has never sat down and spoken with current members of BUS to make such an accusation. Truly, even when she sat down with Teddy Harris and DaMareo Cooper three years ago, they did not say anything that had a racist connotation. It was Beth’s fault for misinterpreting nationalism with racism. Through the power of implication, she has turned these two, along with our organization, in to a fascist regime in need of a coup d’état.

To this, we say “no more!”

No more attempts to defend our name or our history. After learning that there are people who want to kill our president to “show her the real power of the white man,” we are moving to quell racial tensions once and for all. We are not the villains in this situation, nor is our organization, but yet again, we are forced to defend ourselves because of one incidence of ignorance.

Beth, ignorance spans across all racial, gender and cultural lines. The thing you fail to mention in all of this is that none of the people who called you these names were members of the Black United Students executive board. If someone in the audience of the Third Eye Blind concert called one of us the n-word, we wouldn’t write a column implying USG is a group of racists. We, nor any other student group, can control the minds of individuals. All we can say is that while ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power, and we seek to empower our constituency with a knowledge that would prevent these types of situations from occurring.

We take it upon ourselves to educate others about the use of defamatory statements and the power of words. Instead of being a victim, why not stand up and tell those people that you are not a white bitch, but “a straight, white girl who will always do everything in her power to support the plight of all minorities.” Until you stand up for yourself, there is nothing anyone can do to help you.

That is why BUS exists. The students who founded our organization felt that the university was not listening to the voice of black students, so they decide to stand up for the black students and make sure their voices were heard. We make sure that they are not looked over or disenfranchised. BUS is to black students what USG is to the entire student body — a voice.

The irony of the whole situation is that when a white person says anything, it is taken as the gospel, but when a minority speaks up, he or she has to constantly fight for the right to be taken seriously. When Beth gets threatened, the Akron Beacon Journal runs a front-page article. When our president gets threatened, it gets deleted from history like it never existed. It was never mentioned again, and while paperwork was filed and the proper procedure was followed, it shows the double standard that exists in this country when it comes to blacks and whites.

In reality, BUS is an organization with a long history of making progressive strides on this campus, for blacks and whites both. To produce an article based on comments taken out of context is adding fuel to the fire that you are trying to extinguish.

We are not taking away from the incidents that she did experience, for discrimination against anyone is a severe injustice. But Beth, two wrongs don’t make a right. You have done nothing but further the degradation of black people by perpetuating these stereotypes of minorities.

The mistake that many “liberal” whites make is thinking they are doing minorities a favor by stepping in and offering their help. What ends up occurring is one group of people try to help another group of people without taking into consideration the other group’s history, background or culture. While you may empathize with minorities, without having been in our position, you cannot have sympathy for us.

It is an elitist attitude to think you are doing us a favor by taking time out of your day to help the minorities. But help us how? The same way the Christians helped the savage Native Americans repent their pagan religion and embrace a new god? The same way the Europeans helped the ancient Africans become civilized, even though they had been intellectually enlightened for almost 10,000 years.

If you really wanted to help, you would have done then what you are doing now: Tell those people you are not a white bitch, but in fact someone who cares about helping advance people past these racist ideals. Instead, you chose to stand silent for almost four years and then attack the organization that is fighting against the same things you claim you are fighting against. We are not your enemy. We stand up for our people and ourselves everyday. The statute of limitations on this topic is up, Ms. Rankin. Stop promoting the ideals you THINK you are fighting against.

A consensus opinion of the executive board of Black United Students.

Editor’s note: KentNewsNet leaders for Fall 2008 decided to remove the comments on this column. The original intent was to foster an open forum about the issues the column raised. Many of those comments, however, were hateful or offensive and did not positively contribute to the conversation. Anyone who wants to respond to the column is encouraged to write a signed letter to the editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Send those letters to

Letters to the Editor

The Daily Kent Stater

P.O. Box 5190

Kent, Ohio 44242

E-mail: [email protected]

Subject: Letters to the Editor