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Stand up for students, fight against racism

Letter to the Editor

By Melyssa-Jo Kelly
On February 29, 2016

The Black History Month edition of Communiqué (2/18/2016) featured, “A historical look at black education.” The Opinion page included, “Cultural reflection for Black History Month,” and Campus Views found out that students say Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and Barack Obama are the most influential Black people in history.

However, on the same page, Brendan O’Neill’s incoherent “The trouble with ‘racial awareness’ on campus,” denied the impact of enslavement, torture, rape, terror, and discrimination on Americans of African descent. According to him, they are “obsessed over the historical baggage their pigmentation allegedly brought with it.”

As human beings, we live our lives with our skin, our features, our eyes, our hair, our voices. Who would we be without our ancestors and communities? We are linked to history, rooted in culture, and connected to heritage.

When we recognize our multi-faceted identities, we see ourselves and others in the fullness of lived experience. O’Neill, who hasn’t been a student since the early 1990’s, reduced our awareness of differences to absurdity, saying, “The students I met saw themselves and their classmates as colors more than characters.”

O’Neill attacked students who are working for racial justice. Let’s stand up for students of colour who fight against racism and oppression; and white students who recognize privilege and fight against white supremacy. We have important work to do together.


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