There has been on campus, an event which is described by some as the most vile example of blackface in recent history. There is a lot of conflict among alumni, and I am sure it is not a whole lot better on Campus, but the real question is not “What will Albright do about this?”
Do not misunderstand me; the administration absolutely needs to do something and it needs to do something to make sure that the rest of the student body is protected from this kind of behavior spiraling into something that threatens physical harm. But the real question, the one that every student and alumnus needs to be asking themselves right now is “what are WE going to do about it?”
The hard truth is that no matter how good the administration is, it will not be able to do anything about this. Not really. They could expel the students in question, but all that would really do is drive the resentment deeper beneath the surface so that when it does come out, it will be uglier and more violent.
The administration could try to go the love/peace/hippy route and try and offer courses or seminars on racial diversity and sensitivity which will be roundly mocked by just about everyone, especially those who could most benefit from it.
Whatever the administration does, it will be like a parent coming into your room after receiving a bad report from school and telling you what is going to happen next.
But we aren’t kids sitting in our room.
We are adults, with the full rights and privileges that come from being adults. We are able to choose our own courses of action and we are able to figure out what needs to be done. So let’s do it shall we?
Now I don’t know how exactly this plays out. The larger conversation needs to happen on campus, and I’m not actually on campus a whole lot these days. What I do know, however, is that we first need to shine a bright, and possibly painful light on all this ugliness and then we need to be able to have honest and real conversations about it where the focus is on listening, not defending or attacking.
So I don’t know.
Maybe the Domino Players [Theatre club] need to do a staged reading of plays like The Island by Athol Fugard.
Maybe Art students need to do some public and un-official shows.
Maybe history students need to stage a structured debate on the question of Civil Rights in America in the quad like Baldwn v Bukley.
Maybe athletes need to kneel for the national anthem at homecoming.
Maybe we all need to look around in our classes and ask if the faces and genders are representative of the America we believe in.
Maybe I need to spend more time talking about race on my blog. I think I’ll probably end up doing that. What are you going to Albirght Lions?
Pictured: 2009 student counter protest against Westboro Baptist Church. Photo Credit: John Pankratz