Posted by Danny Pforte
I want to step back a bit from the specific topics of race, class, and gender inequality and reflect on some of the hurtful comments made toward my pieces and my personal character. In no way is this a response; I will not immaturely fight insulting language with insulting language. But there is something to be said about the anonymous comments made on numerous online anonymous boards after last week's issue. They express more than disdain for the content of my articles. As Sarah Goodwin wrote in a letter to Skidmore News in last week's issue, "We are not yet done with the troubling matters that the Teach-In addressed; we've barely begun".
The insults, jokes, and disrespectful language unpack the need for people to discredit the reality that I have experienced and researched. Earlier this week, I heard from a friend that unidentified Skidmore News editors and writers said that they feel I need to substantiate my claims, with one saying that racism does not affect them. But there is plenty of research to prove the oppression that occurs in our society. It can be found in census data, research journals, the New York Times, and many classes that Skidmore College offers. We cannot offer the topic of oppression for debate; doing so leaves too many silenced and hurt.
Furthermore, the Skidmore News editorial on the faculty posters highlights this argumentative approach to human reality and experience. The article states every faculty member received a memo expressing feelings of stigmatization and marginalization on their door and signed as "The Student Body". The discomfort from these anonymous posters is understandable, as we cannot fully be sure what the students responsible for these posters want or need. But that does not take away from the fact that many have decided to discredit the message in the poster and the clear expression of discomfort on our campus. What critics wanted were specific examples of individual professors responsible and for the participants to come out from anonymity and voice their specific concerns. However, if one went to the campus climate dialogues sponsored by SGA, the community meeting, or the numerous Intersections panels, they would have met students who voiced their discomfort.
Ironically, anonymity is a theme for those who have decided to disrespectfully voice their opinions about my pieces and my personal beliefs. These anonymous commentators call me dumb and uninformed. Some mock my content with witty jokes; others decide to just call me an embarrassment to the newspaper. Interestingly enough, one commentator lists many exceptions to the rules I propose, which only reinforce my beliefs of color-blind racism and a lack of understanding of the social realities that plague our nation from students on this campus.
It is for these reasons that I cannot be silent in the midst of such misunderstanding for people who must suffer for consequences of oppression. In our country, and yes, on our campus, students have been silenced. We have expressed our needs to other students, faculty and administration and have done so this semester, with no change occurring. Students of target (marginalized) races, classes, sexualities, and genders were courageous enough to pour out their hearts and personal experiences to the administration in an attempt to evoke empathy and institutional change that would make our community more embracive toward underrepresented populations on campus.
This was a powerful display, as often times uncomfortable and marginalized populations, such as the working poor and the unemployed underclass, have trouble voicing their concerns at a national level. Many become demoralized because their suffering does not improve, which ultimately leads to a lack of trust in others. The poorer you are in the United States, the less likely you are to vote. This relationship ultimately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The poor do not feel like their voice is important and thus have their interests easily pushed to the side. Unfortunately, in this country, this reality means losing the voices of over a third of the nation. We should consider the difficult nature of being constantly rejected and told that your reality and experience is not relevant. Similar to the poor in this country, the lack of change and action for the purpose of making our campus more socially responsible after the community forum brings anonymous claims of marginalization to light.
With that said, it is disturbing that these beliefs are not expressed publicly like the feelings of marginalization were at the community forum. I want to challenge all of us to participate in dialogue around these beliefs. We are students of a college community, not strangers. If you do not agree, have not experienced, or just do not know of the oppression on our campus and in the larger society, well it is time to take a closer look. Let us all seek more than right and wrong and do so without passivity. Let's seek needs, experiences, and change. Let's seek action.