GUEST COLUMN: An example of racism today

I was witness to one of the most disturbing scenes in my memory when, 12 days after the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birth, Delta Sigma Theta (a black sorority) held a party in the Student Center. I was in a group of four white men outside the Student Center who waxed not-so-poetic about racism and the “problem” of black people as the party ended. Among the things said were:

“It is fine for black people to have all these Renaissance Balls, but when white people have one, it’s considered racist.”

“I’m tired of seeing the Stater apologize for offending somebody.”

“Why aren’t black-only frats/sororities considered racist? If a white-only one was created, there would be cries of racism everywhere.”

“We should start a fund to send them back on a leaky ship. I have $3.”

“They have a whole building to themselves; if there was a white-only building, it’d be racist.”

Further, the n-word was dropped so many times that I lost count; various racist jokes were told, the sight of two black people being pulled over by the police made one’s night, and numerous references were made to “curb-stomping” (… la American History X).

That is a sample of what I heard. I write this to expose what (white) America thinks no longer exists. Blatant and overt racism is still alive and well in this supposedly diverse and welcoming community and country, and the people who espouse these feelings don’t wear white sheets. Covert racism pervades this society and is difficult for many white people to recognize because we benefit from it. Example: how many white people have a basic understanding of “white privilege?”

I am sickened by the extreme ethnocentric attitudes of my peers and would like to note how currently structured education has failed to instill even a minute degree of sense regarding race relations in this society. In the past, I was hopeful that more education would reduce prejudice; after seeing what I did – by college-educated people – that hope has faded tremendously. There are serious problems here, but hardly any white person wants to acknowledge or discuss this issue, let alone educational institutions. Instead, education often chooses to take a color-blind look at the world around us, failing many in the process.

Through this, I would also like to apologize. Even though I did not contribute to the conversation, I was still a part of it. I’m sorry for not having the fortitude to speak up and attempt to put an end to the naivet‚. My name is here in print for all of Kent State to see; to the other three people involved, you know who you are I challenge you to step up and either defend yourselves or take similar actions.

I understand that I am not perfect, nor do I fully comprehend the breadth of the racial divide in this country. I also know that I will never be able to, due to the privileged color of my skin. Lastly, I realize this is merely a token, and any apology from a white person will never be enough.

David Pittman is a senior political science major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].