Bright college years

What’s happening in Michigan?

As members of the Arab, Latina/o, Desi, and Asian-American communities, we are severely disappointed and humiliated by the formal response of an Asian-American fraternity member who “authored” and organized the anti-Black event, “World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday.” The subsequent apology by the fraternity’s president reframed this as an isolated incident instead of examining the event as a form of structural racism thriving in the University at large. We must move the conversation beyond addressing “micro-aggressions” to interrogating the racial landscape of our campus. As it stands today, white student enrollment is at 70 percent while Asian-American student enrollment has been exponentially increasing. However, Black enrollment, at less than 4 percent, is the lowest since 2006. These statistics are more than just numbers; they translate into real, unequal power relations within and outside of communities of color. We write this letter to provoke critical conversations in our communities that examine how non-Black communities of color contribute to and benefit from the status quo. As non-Black people of color it is time we hold ourselves accountable for our communities’ complicity in anti-Blackness. We don’t share common racialized experiences with Black students at the University of Michigan. All “minorities” do not have the same experience with institutionalized racism. It is disingenuous for any of us to say we “sympathize as a fellow minority” as this erases differences and suggests that the University is an equal playing field for all students of color. It is not. This racist event, hosted by a multicultural fraternity, reflects a broader trend on campus in which non-Black people of color co-opt Black voices. Now that more non-Black people are consuming hip-hop, our communities have created and fetishized caricatures of Black people for our own pleasure and entertainment. Non-Black people of color need to interrogate our own racist, essentialist notions about “Black culture.” We cannot “transcend” “racial definitions” when hip-hop music was created as a form of Black resistance. As non-Black people of color we cannot claim to “appreciate” music without understanding its historical origins. We cannot consume mainstream hip-hop without considering that most popular hip-hop today is produced and regulated by six corporations, all headed by white men, who control 90 percent of mainstream media. Just as mainstream media’s construction of Black culture does not define blackness, Theta Xi’s appropriation of Black culture does not define Blackness. Additionally, let us not pretend that this incident along with other hate crimes affect all marginalized groups in the same way. It is important to recognize that not “all women” have been traumatized by this event in the same manner. Gendered and racialized words like “ratchet” and “twerking” specifically target Black women. To say that this affects all women is reductive and clearly ignores that race and gender cannot be separated. We cannot erase the specificity of Black experiences by using selectively collective language like “our community” to discuss how this incident exacerbated the“problematic campus climate.” It is time for ourselves and for our communities to examine how we benefit from existing US racial structures. As non-Black people of color, we are granted the ability to assimilate and reproduce whiteness. By umbrellaing under “people of color” we absolve ourselves of political accountability. A white/non-white racial paradigm dismisses how the reality of anti-Black racism structures racial inequalities. While the term “people-of-color” may be useful in building movements across communities, it should not lead to “people-of-color-blindness.” On our campus, we cannot “foster healthy values” by exploiting Black students’ lived experiences to enlighten us on anti-Black racism. Instead we should work to examine our relationships to Blackness with the same specificity we use to examine our relationships to whiteness. For our racial justice work to be meaningful and sustainable, we must constantly work to unlearn anti-Black attitudes and practices, specifically in our respective non-Black communities. We do not write this letter to claim authority, but to incite political meditations on how our communities can reimagine our anti-racist work on campus and beyond

Wow, someone’s parents are sure wasting a lot of money. Hmmmm, we know an ex-mayor who’d fit right in as university president at Michigan. Hey, Brandeis is cool too!

2 Responses to “Bright college years”

  1. Thomas GY Says:

    Wow, they are even going to do some reimagining. Imagine that!
    What gobbledygook, or is it repurposed drivel?

  2. Irwin Chusid Says:

    I ran this through Google Translate and still couldn’t understand it.

Leave a Reply