Last week’s “Hurting the Cause: Club Perpetuates Racist Ideology” by Jeff Pecaro argued that the new “White” Students for Racial Equity club will further racism more than it will work to fight it. The article raises some key concerns surrounding the group and its race-y title. I am writing to communicate some clarifications regarding “White” Students for Racial Equity’s very existence. I will first take a step back to briefly explain race as both an illusion and an actuality; after which, I will make strides to address the bold arguments presented by Pecaro; and, finally, I hope to grab everyone’s hand and step forward by explaining and promoting what “White” Students for Racial Equity is truly all about.
Science has revealed that roughly 99.3 percent of peoples’ genetic make-up is shared by all. Really? Yes, really. Accordingly, the remaining 0.7 percent varies from person to person and is in no way linked to or determined by phenotype/ethnicity, etc. Racial idealization has no scientific basis; race is therefore a deeply rooted social misconception. From the past to the present, blood laws, segregation, colonization, the slave trade, genocide, etc. had no justification behind them-these acts were executed based on myth, false science, fabrication and arrogant “degeneracy.” Just because race is constructed does not necessarily mean that it does not exist as a category of power, playing a threatening role in the U.S. Racial thought needs analysis and critical inquiry. We must recognize and react to the constructs and how they operate in American culture/institutions. Through this, we can try to better understand and re-envision these constructions.
I was quite glad to read Jeff Pecaro’s article. I thank him for his input. “White” Students for Racial Equity is willing and committed to considering any suggestion or theory. We are here to learn more about ourselves and the world. Our aim is that everyone learns in this process, however you identify. We still have some issues with his general stance, rhetoric and how he approaches the club. Valid as his notion of “White” may be, we are ultimately discussing two different definitions. Your interpretation, Jeff, is simply one interpretation. It is not the Truth. You may feel that you “don’t believe in ‘white’ people,” but much of America feels the opposite: people are still using these terms in social and institutional settings. This is genuinely and legitimately something to consider. So-called white people in America must contemplate and examine their political identity. They must. We are trying to break down the divide, not reinforce it. We cannot put this off any longer. Here, a “Will to Something” will prove far more necessary and worthwhile than a “Will to Nothing.”
America is often seen as a land of multiculturalism; however, it is safe to say that we are not truly integrated. A similar model can easily be translated onto our current situation here at Oxy. Well over half of the campus identifies as (or is categorized as) “white” or “Caucasian.” Consequently, well over half of the people on campus involved in the greater racial justice movement do not identify as “white.” This is, as “White” Students for Racial Equity feels, an alarming reality we must address.
Oxy calls itself a liberal campus. The problem with many liberals, and in this context “‘white’ American liberals,” is that people think they are exempt from active thought and contribution because they hold presumably progressive values. The argument being that “I’m liberal therefore I’m not a racist.” These statements propagate delusion. Pecaro further argued that the club’s very title is damaging social justice development: “These terms drive yet another wedge between us.” What about other on- or off-campus organizations focusing on or catering to certain people/identities while having racially diverse followers? They open up membership to everyone, as do we, while having specific, sincere objectives in the process. Let us assure that YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HAVE TO IDENTIFY AS “WHITE” to be an active member of the club. We have already been working with other cultural clubs and plan to hold joint meetings with them; we may make this mandatory. Simply put, if you are down with egalitarianism then you should consider attending a meeting.
What we are trying to say is that the social justice movement needs the contribution of more “white” students-we were not implying that “white help” is any more “significant.” We are not trying to glamorize or reify “whiteness.” We are trying to beat it down and re-imagine it with a reformist hammer. Ultimately, we are a group of anti-racists fighting to critique and come to terms with racism that is embedded in our minds and communities. We look forward to being one of many voices on campus in our continuing dialogue regarding these important issues.
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