It’ss the first day of classes, and while most students are thinking about what they will wear, I’m dreading starting another year at UW-Madison. I’m dreading the racist letters telling me to go back where I came from, dreading the all-white class discussion about why my race is falling, dreading a course curriculum that doesn’t include me and most of all dreading coming to campus every morning to read papers that perpetuate all of the hatred of which I and so many others on this campus are victims.
Already, The Badger Herald has printed articles that say, in so many words, “Welcome students of color, now go back where you came from.” I questioned whether I should even bother responding to the ridiculously biased Registration Issue, but in the end, my commitment to making sure other underrepresented students know they are not alone won out.
First, let me say how ridiculous — although not surprising — it is for a white, male Herald columnist to suggest ending hate speech with more free speech.
Let me clarify something for all you white folks out there who care more about your “free speech” than the rights of others to live free from harassment and violence: hate speech turns into hate crimes. Sadly, this reality was all too clearly demonstrated this weekend when our Asian brothers were severely beaten in a hate crime, a hate crime that began with hate speech. Furthermore, the fact that some students sleep easy at night while others walk in fear shows the true color of this campus is white, very white.
All of this is not to say that dialogue is not an important part of ending all forms of oppression. Creating that dialogue responsibly is one of the main jobs of the Associated Students of Madison’s diversity liaisons (along with many other duties such as holding forums, presenting workshops, education and outreach).
Yet, the Herald is against the ASM liaisons, too. The paper named the liaisons “The Seg Fee Abuse of the Week.” The Herald’s article about the diversity liaisons was filled with so much “I don’t want to be labeled as a racist” jargon and “I want to improve diversity, as long as the money doesn’t come from my pocket, because I honestly don’t care” rhetoric that I thought Chancellor John Wiley had written it. It showed a complete lack of understanding of the issues facing underrepresented people on this campus and throughout the world.
The Editorial Board’s insensitivity when dealing with multiple identities is contemptible. Had someone taken the time to ask, maybe the Board would have gotten a better understanding of why each of these positions are important, instead of blindly ranting about how unnecessary they are.
For instance, while there are some issues that all women share, women of color have very specific issues that are not met in the general women’s movement. The same can be said for any other group dealing with dual/multiple identities.
But honestly, I’m not disappointed in the Herald, because it’s exactly what I have come to expect — a lot of talk, very little fact and a perpetuator of oppressive ideology.
Jennifer Epps is the ASM Diversity Committee Co-Chair.