Let's Talk About: Racism

6:36:00 PM

    Racism is a word that makes people uncomfortable. It's a heavy topic that sometimes seems easier to ignore and brush under the table like cake crumbs. Often, people are afraid to speak up because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing or feel because they themselves have never directly encountered racism, aren't in a position to talk about it. With this mindset, racism has only continued to fester and the struggle to have an open conversation about it has become more difficult. Yes the slaves were freed, yes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said "I have a dream", yes Harriet Tubman is going to be on the $20 bill, but racism still exists in our communities. Specifically, it exists at my school.
    This morning the name "Paige Shoemaker" was splashed across twitter and various media outlets. Shoemaker, a white female student at Kansas State University, posted a photo to Snapchat in blackface. Shoemaker and her friend Sadie Meier are seen holding up gang signs underneath the caption "feels good to finally be a nigga". Blackface is not okay. Being racist is not okay. Shoemaker has defended herself and Meier stating that they were wearing clay face masks and did not mean any offense. The issue with this is that they clearly did mean to offend. Posting a photo in a face mask is not a problem, but posting a photo in a face mask with the caption "feels good to finally be a nigga" is. For clearly self explanatory reasons. If these reasons are not clear to you, please - let me explain. Blackface was used in the 1800's for theatrical purposes. An actor who was not Black would put on blackface to appear Black for a role often based on Black stereotypes. Blackface has had ties with racism for centuries. Shoemaker's snapchat showed clear racist intent. That's. Not. Cool.
    Shoemaker and Meier are not single-handedly responsible for racism, but they are a part of the problem. We are also part of the problem if we don't speak up. I am not speaking on behalf of the Black community and how they should respond to this event, but trying to spark a conversation about it. The conversation regarding racism and the system that we live in which continues to benefit white people at the expense of POC will never get any easier if we continue to keep silent. Desmund Weathers, also a student at Kansas State University, took to Twitter to express his disgust at the situation. He posted the snapchat in a tweet with the caption "Welcome to Kansas State University. Where breakfast in the morning is some K-State Family with a side of Racism". Kansas State University has a made a clear statement that this event does not reflect the values of the University, but it would be ignorant to brush this off as two girls who made a mistake or say that racism is not prevalent on college campuses. Don't sit in your privilege, demand justice. You have a voice, take action and speak up for what is right.

*update* As of yesterday evening, Shoemaker is no longer enrolled at KSU.

Image from Woodcut Print: Danny Schutt

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