by Sujay Singh
Last week was probably one of the most emotionally draining weeks I’ve had in college. I’ve only had around 13 weeks in college, so I’m not sure if me saying that holds much value. But I was exposed to what Claremont really is. The buckets of money that we all pay might make the campus really pretty, but the classism and racism among a variety of other –isms is rampant here. I wanted to write this article to point out and explain some of the misconceptions a lot of people had with the protest and the movement.
- “Oppressing the Model Minority”- The international student who spoke out at the protest brought up a good point. Everyone, no matter what race or ethnicity they are, can be racist. However, it wasn’t necessarily directly relevant to the movement. The immediate response many people, including the media took, was that her voice was silenced, and that the movement created more of a hostile environment than one that was conducive to a powerful protest. Though, this didn’t take into account that the international student herself released a statement saying that she didn’t mean to derail the movement, and that she one hundred percent supports the protest and doesn’t wish to be the ‘wedge’ that the media is driving between the movement and the public.
- “The Aimless Protest”- The protest was centered and to the point. If anything seemed disjointed during the protest itself, it was to no fault of the students who spearheaded the movement. The goal was for the president to sign and acknowledge a list of demands made by the CMCers of Color, which was accomplished (to an extent). After that though, the protest ended.
- “The Violent Protest”- The protest was disruptive in the sense that there was a large crowd and there was noise. Other than that however, it didn’t block accessibility to anything. It was between the Hub and the Bubble, and space was made for people to get through to whichever they wanted.
- “The Protest was Reverse Racist”- No. When someone makes a comment and says “white people are/do…” that is not being ‘racist’. It is not structurally excluding a race. White people are already in a state of privilege. White people can still be allies, rather, when someone of color says “white people [verb]…” it is calling those who haven’t checked their privilege out on their state of privilege. I acknowledge that I have the privilege of being able to even talk about this issue on a platform like The Peel, when some people don’t have this privilege and can’t speak about the system in a critical way, as they are forced to work under it to support themselves. White people have the privilege of being able to walk down the street in a Euro-centric society, and not have people make judgments about them based on the color of their skin.
In my first week of school, students in a red truck drove past me, threw a red solo cup at me, and told me to go back to where I came from. It is the brown color of my skin, that allows someone to make the assumption that I am not from here. It is the brown color of my skin that allows people to look puzzled when I say I am from San Diego, when they really just expected me to say some South Asian country. It is the white skin that my friend has that allows him to tell people he’s from San Diego, and nobody blinks an eye.
Before you make judgments about the protest like many students at and outside of Claremont already have, try to understand the context of the situation and whether or not this is even a space where you are justified in making those judgments. Check your privilege, folks. Just because we’re at the Claremont Colleges doesn’t mean we must to succumb to the nature of wealth that the campus possesses.