Opinion: As a campus community, we need to discuss racism

Opinion: As a campus community, we need to discuss racism

Cory Spiers


It became apparent to me and many others last weekend that racism is still alive and well on the campus of Appalachian State University. 

 

A freshman at Appalachian tweeted a modified version of a racial slur with the intent of describing the fans North Carolina A&T football team.

The young woman’s actions haven’t ignited any new issues. However, her use of inflammatory and derogatory language has magnified existing issues and tensions that should no longer exist.

First, it is vital that we recognize that our student body consists mostly of white students. Though Appalachian strives to be a diverse community, white students still greatly outnumber all other races. White students made up 87 percent of the student body in the 2012-13 academic year, according to data from the university.

It’s important to understand our racial demographic because it opens the door to talk about privilege. Privilege may have been the beast that gave this young woman the feeling that she had the freedom to say what she did. Privilege is something that blinds us as white students to many instances of prejudice and racism.

It is unfortunate that so many people don’t know what racism looks like until it gains a significant amount of attention.

The views and behavior of this student are not representative of the Appalachian community. As a student body, we have a responsibility to make that blatantly apparent.

We can do this by calling racism out when we see it.

As a student body, it is imperative that we engage in discourse about race. If we choose to do nothing, we consciously choose to perpetuate racism – not only on special occasions, but also on a daily basis.

The question and discussion of race is not something we can continue to sweep under the rug as fast as possible. We cannot pretend that we live in a world where racism does not exist, just like we cannot pretend we live in a world where sexism, sexual assault and homophobia do not exist.

Denial and apathy are implicit endorsements.

As a community, it is our duty to ensure that all students feel safe and welcome. We should strive to care for one another by protecting our fellow students from harmful, detrimental actions.

These conversations about race might make some of us uncomfortable, but until we decide to keep the lines of dialogue open, we will continue to unknowingly turn blind eyes toward racism.

The Appalachian community should welcome all, but it should not welcome or harbor racism and those who perpetuate it.

 

McCall, a senior journalism major from Statesville, is the A&E editor.