Category: Race

This Trump thing has really been bothering me. I do think he will end up doing a decent job as President, but I believe he is a careless human being. You have said that you don’t condone what he’s said, but take greater issue with Hillary’s actions. That is a position that I find to be completely sound and valid. What I cannot understand is how you admire and respect his character.

The first time this tension began to form in my mind was at the table with your mom, and and you were dismissing his remarks about how he’s treated women around him. The things that he’s bragging about doing — whether he’s done them or not — have been done to me time and time again, both by strangers and men that I know. It creates an atmosphere of fear, contempt and deep, unsettling discomfort. I expect to be harassed by a man at least four times every day. It’s been that way since I was 17 years old – being harassed by men twice and three times my age. I do not feel safe from sexual assault at any point in time. You were around to experience the pain, shock, and lingering trauma of a rape with me– I find it even more relevant that this was done at the hands of a man in a position of professional power over me. You were there to see how often I have to deal with these struggles. I am not an exception – this is a widespread problem. You have seen how pedestrian this rhetoric of men being able to get away with “harmless” actions and words is — how it’s an expectation to just accept it. You wouldn’t accept it. Surely, you wouldn’t accept anything that deeply bothers you and brings anxiety that makes you physically ill for the rest of your life. This has only been happening for a few years, and it’s going to keep happening for more than twenty. Because it’s “funny” and “harmless” and the transgressions themselves can elapse a span of mere seconds, it’s okay.

The fact that this is something that has affected my life so heavily and acutely during the time we’ve been together made it feel like you weren’t standing up for me and the millions of women that are expected to just take whatever treatment is dealt to them because to millions of men, this patronizing harassment is something to brag about and applaud. Then it began to dawn on me that perhaps, you don’t even think that this is a problem, let alone that it’s something that should and needs to change. That is a hard thing for me to accept for the rest of my life. It feels fundamentally important for this to be taken seriously. In essence, it was your joy for him that unsettled me. Please do not confuse this with you being joyful that the election resulted in his favor. It’s that you’re happy FOR HIM. That you are not merely complacent about this man being cast as a hero but that you are happy. That this isn’t something you’re accepting as a necessary decision for the country because no one has any idea what he actually wants to do with it. You like him, and that disgusts me. It makes me feel sick to think about it, which is why I’ve been trying to keep my distance the past few days.

I love you very much, but I’m also deeply troubled by this tugging notion that you don’t grasp the magnitude of how certain things, which are completely within the realm of possibility to change, affect my life at the structural and systemic levels. I don’t know that you even know/acknowledge that they exist at the systemic and structural levels. Your comment that if you were raised in a low-income, inner city, high crime community, you would observe the unproductive behavior of your parents and the adults around you and work very hard to have a 4.0 to get a scholarship and go to college just illuminated how blind you could be to what it’s like to actually have those circumstances shape your life and opportunities. “Those people need to be shot,” you said.  They already get shot every day. It’s true that you can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves, but society isn’t effectively and equally equipping people to help themselves. That is just a fact.

However, the rural poor, the urban poor, the profitization of prisons – I don’t know if these things matter to you at all, and it is entirely important to me and what I want to do with my life – purpose and instilling it in others. Do you want to do that or do you only want to blame them and resign yourself to the idea that these people are irredeemable and should live out the next ten, thirty, fifty years of their life wasting as something less than people?

I believe in God’s plan. For this country, for its citizens, for Donald Trump. I believe that the people who society is dismissing and discarding were created by God and are just as important as I am. I believe that every single human was designed with God’s hand and meticulous attention. I believe that anyone can lose their way and make a mess of their lives and the lives of the people around them. If someone is alive after that point of failure or mistake or evildoing, there will still be years of existence that can take the form of more good or more evil. Nevertheless, there will be more experiences – which are opportunities to grow. I believe that we are resilient creatures and that people can come back from anything.

These things have been weighing heavily on my mind because I love you so much and I do want to plan a future with you, but I’m only 20-years-old and my future is just beginning to take shape. The delay in expressing my feelings is due to my own anxiety – fear of bringing these feelings up and having you think that I see you as completely unsupportive of me. None of these issues are individual; they’re issues of idealism. You are the most understanding guy I know and you have strong opinions so I wanted to have mine formed in an organized manner. You take care of me so well and understand me as a human being. I love you so much.

Jacie Goudy is a third year student in Columbia College (2018) double majoring in History and Political Science. She is especially interested in the comparative study of social factors on the political economy between Eastern and Western societies.

 The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com
Photo Courtesy of Bradley Davison (CC ’17)

I’ve seen a lot of uproar on Facebook the past few days in response to an article recently published in the Columbia Daily Spectator. The intent of the article, as it seems to me, is to cast a light on the many different points of view held by our peers that feel “privileged, and therefore ineligible to speak” on issues surrounding race relations. Furthermore, the author posits that we, the Columbia community, have failed to realize the “colorblind society envisioned by Dr. King.” I believe the Martin Luther King Jr.  quotes have been discussed thoroughly. I want to dig at a more personal issue.

The grand “zenith” of this failure for MLK’s Dream is an exchange about attractiveness on a Facebook page. Let’s just start with that. [A: Is he cute? B: No, he’s white]

Consider this: “You’re really cute for a black girl.”

This is something that I have heard over and over again in the course of my life. In almost all of my classrooms before starting college, I was the only student with my hair in an unruly puff on the back of my head – the only one that was brown. As I grew older, was placed in advanced classes, achieved great success, I would remain the only one.

Having little exposure to people of color beyond those of my own family, I began to focus on how I could be similar to the white people around me and distance myself from the non-erudite image of “being black”. You know – the “black as a state of mind” thing – dress “like you’re black” – talk “like you’re black”. I observed that my academic pursuits aligned with the career paths of the white side of my family. My appearance, however, would never be similar. I spent hours each day making sure my hair was pin-straight, I spent hours wishing my thighs would be smaller so I wouldn’t look “ghetto”. I did anything and everything I could think of to shake that qualifier: “for a black girl.”

So, here’s the take-away: that anonymous person who made a remark about an unidentifiable white man’s attractiveness should not affect him personally – because the white man has not been made to believe his whole life that he is a sub-class of something better. Moreover, these qualified appraisals of beauty are most often obliviously meant as compliments!

Yet….

“I don’t know why he’d want to see a black girl. She’s not a pretty blonde girl like me.”

This comment has stuck with me for three years and is a reminder that these insecurities that I’d struggled with weren’t merely of my mind’s own creation.

I whole-heartedly agree with the article’s position that a transparent picture of the ugliness in this country and prejudices within ourselves is the only way to actually change anything. I disagree with her assertion that there is a color-coded right to speak.

Open discourse is essential for progress! WHEN A POC* RESPONDS TO SOMETHING YOU SAID, JUST LISTEN AND DON’T BE SO DEFENSIVE. This isn’t about taking away anybody’s right to speak; it’s about giving some other marginalized voices a chance to JOIN THE CONVERSATION.

I can’t speak for other people that look like me any more than I can speak for any other human, but I think we all just want to be happy and show who we are – the “content of our character” – rather than having our lives reduced to proving to the world what we’re not (pushing back against the judgment based on skin color).

* Person of color

Jacie Goudy is a third year student in Columbia College (2018) double majoring in History and Political Science. She is especially interested in the comparative study of social factors on the political economy between Eastern and Western societies.

 The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this op-ed or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

This Op-Ed was written in response to Daniella Greenbaum’s “A color-coded right to speak” published in the Columbia Daily Spectator.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance.” – Martin Luther King

To respond to Daniella Greenbaum’s “A color-coded right to speak,” I want to first address the idea of a ‘colorblind’ society and then directly respond to her other two points, the first about the perceived racism of black women who are apprehensive about dating white men, and the second about the perceived racism of black students apprehensive about learning the foundations of slavery from white teachers.

Ms. Greenbaum’s “A color-coded right to speak” represents her fundamental misunderstanding of the quotation she includes in her article since, first and foremost, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never argued for a colorblind society. To judge someone “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” means, quite literally, to not be racist. Dr. King was responding to anti-blackness in America. He was responding to a society that held one race superior and another inferior; a society in which the dominant status group – white Americans – ostracized and exploited black Americans. We still live in this society. The philosophy by which the dominant white power maintains its authority, and which Greenbaum espouses, has not faded. The concept of color-blindness existed long before Dr. King was born – color-blindness is simply the devaluation and minimization of racial identity, and the ascription of the reality and struggle of being a racial minority not to racism but to another cause. Throughout history, various parts of the white power structure have decided that this cause is cultural pathology – the idea that black Americans are on average poorer than white Americans, arrested more often, and commit ‘more’ crimes not because they face profound social exclusion and the burdens of discrimination in the labor-market, a stigma of criminality, and have historically been excluded from social welfare agencies and other public services, or because low-level criminality is a function of social strain, but rather because black Americans are inherently inferior and that black culture is inherently linked to criminality and poverty.

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