The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

How to use white privilege

How+to+use+white+privilege

White St. Joe’s students have an obligation

I’m from a small town on the Jersey Shore, I’m white and I went to high school with not a single black person in a population just short of 400 students.

One of the things I knew about St. Joe’s before coming here is that its demographic makeup would be similar to my high school. Religiously searching its facts and figures page and its general reputation was indicative of its lack of diversity.

It would be ignorant of me to say that I didn’t think there would be undertones of racism within the student body due to its demographics, but I didn’t think that students would be so candidly racist. It is disappointing to be a part of a student body that does not foster equality among all of its members.

I am privileged because I’m white. There is absolutely no denying that. Although I believe I am not a racist person, I think anyone who shares this mindset must acknowledge that while we may not consider ourselves to be racist, we live in a system of institutionalized racism that we actively benefit from.

At St. Joe’s, white students see these benefits when we do not experience the added stress, on top of all the stress that naturally comes with college, of being attacked by racism, bigotry and ignorance.

We were able to choose attending a college without taking the risk of it not being safe. We can exist in a community unapologetically and without our differences setting us apart. This should be the case for every single student at St. Joe’s, regardless of race. Right now, it is our responsibility to acknowledge that it’s not.

I haven’t made it a full semester at St. Joe’s yet, but the aggravation and disappointment that surrounds these issues encapsulates the inexcusably lax handling of the incidents in the past and present.

Although white privilege is a constant in society beyond St. Joe’s, as is racism, I’ve seen it in action regarding the racist incidents this year. Students express apathy towards emails, headlines and discussions regarding the racial bias incidents, like disinterestedly scrolling through a social media feed.

“Oh that’s a shame!”

“I wonder what will happen next!”

“What happened?”

“What racial bias incident?”

“Class is canceled on November 4th!”

“Awesome.”

No one deserves to be in an environment encompassed by ignorance against their existence. No one deserves to be under the jurisdiction of a university that negligently handles instances of hate speech and inequality.

I am white, and my voice should not be listened to over those who deal with these experiences here at St. Joe’s, but I know I am obligated to use my privilege in order to stand in solidarity with minorities in our community and to amplify their voices.

Call racism what it is, protect your fellow students and listen to their voices. If you witness racist language or acts, hold perpetrators accountable. Dismissing such discourse enhances a culture that is actively open to racism.

As necessary as it is for the university to thoughtfully and meaningfully address racial bias incidents, it is just as important for our students to uphold a precedent that promotes equity among the entire student body.

My privilege exists within this piece, in that I am writing about an issue that does not impact me the way it does others. With that, the frustration that myself and most students have is not the same frustration that is held by those within our community who are directly impacted by racism. This is also a privilege that we must acknowledge.

Times like this require us to sideline our empathy and allow those directly impacted by these instances to express their emotions and opinions in the foreground; their anger, their frustration, or any emotion they have, because they are justified in doing so.

We should stand by them and with them, echoing their voices.

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    Melissa DePinoNov 7, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    This is an amazing piece. Thank you for showing up against racism! I’d love to share it and tag you. Let me know if that’s okay (and your Twitter/IG handle).

    Reply
    • R

      Regina SchliepNov 9, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you so much! You are welcome to share it. My IG handle is @reginaschliep

      Reply