Snapchat isn’t meant for serious topics, nor does it provide the best news source or promote any thought-provoking content. But this past weekend, an image was sent to me that prompted me to write this article.
The snapchat I received came from my friend who attends University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The caption of the picture read “lol” with a red circle drawn around a giant bulletin board that had been erected on their campus grounds. The bulletin was meant to invite students to voice their opinions and start conversation regarding topics that concerned them.
Of course, this lead to some “free Harambe” and 420 related remarks, but some had an message with an edge, including the statement that hit home for me, “UWEC is racist.” A bold statement, but hardly surprising, considering the discrimination many minority students on campus feel daily on a predominantly white campus.
But the discussion and investigation of the issue is being neglected. After only one weekend, the university took the boards down. Whether the boards were taken down due to a university policy or to divert attention away from the controversial message does not matter.
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What I would like to bring to attention is a true issue many minorities experience (something not discussed in current news and media), and how the common form of expression is not provoking change or helping to solve any racial issue occurring.
Are we able to express dire thoughts, uncomfortable topics and painful realities such as racism without obstruction? Are minorities truly being heard?
Despite a current national media fascination with the topic of racism, constant retweets and Facebook posts aren’t valuable in addressing the everyday issues that directly affect many minorities who live on campus.
Specifically, they feel ignored and disconnected from standard daily college life due to an underlying bias against people of color. Not getting picked for a group project is an example. It’s a simple thing, but happens so often and easily that many of us don’t stop and think about how that action is influencing the individual person, as well as the campus climate. Little occurrences like this build up and a mindset is created that subconsciously excludes minorities.
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Frankly, this is what causes the most pain — a soft alienation the other party isn’t even aware of and not talked about because the magnitude of it in relationship to the topics in the media and politics is so small. But imagine how hard, how frustrating, it is to live with these things that are the most bothersome to people and, ultimately, not being able to talk about it?
The public discourse focuses only on jarring events, topics meant to provoke anger and emotion which pits one side against another. In the end, this accomplishes close to nothing.
I will not dismiss the good that has come from use of these platforms and the widespread awareness it has created. But, a different approach to combating these issues may stand a better chance at creating change.
“UWEC is racist” on a billboard may be a real expression of pain and a pertinent one, but it is big, loud and contributes nothing. Perhaps with a softer tone and a more rational voice, the important issues will be taken seriously and people will be heard.
Lisa Heverly ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in international business.