“Man up you baby. Nobody cares about Hindu holidays and that’s up to them. If you feel so alone here then go home. Really if this culture in this country isn’t for you then go back home where you do feel more welcome.” This was the first comment I read on Prashansha Maharjan’s letter to the editor last week. It did not come as a surprise, considering the fact that two days before this message was posted there were posters that read, “It’s okay to be white” hung around campus. Before I came to Minnesota for college, I had to research various aspects of the state and the city of Moorhead. One thing I understood was that the city of Moorhead was a safe and small city.
The past week has in no way felt safe for me and a lot of other diverse students. Just like many of us have stated, no one ever said it was not okay to be white; what we were all against was the underlying message of racism that these posters were spreading. In America, it has always been okay to be white. White has always been seen as the standard for perfection and there are many people who believe that in order to make it, you have to be white. So, why exactly were there posters hanging around campus making it seem like being white has always been seen as an issue?
When I shared this story on my Facebook page, I hoped to have an open conversation with people who thought these posters were okay. I never arrived at the answers that could convince me to agree with the message of the posters. I had some educated and intelligent, yet unconvincing, conversations, but many of the people who had come to my page to support these posters were somewhat white supremacists who felt offended by my message of opposition. The next day, I and many other students waited to hear from the school administration regarding this situation. When the message finally came, I felt it was a message I had heard before. It talked about how Concordia is an inclusive community and we need to have these conversations.
My first question is, how do we have these conversations in a school community that was never designed for these types of conversations? How do we talk about racism and social justice issues in a school where the topic of race can’t even be brought up in classes? How exactly are we expected to have open conversations when our liberal arts curriculum does not give us an opportunity to do so? I feel like the educational and social structure of Concordia was not designed to tackle social justice issues, and as such, has to be fixed. Otherwise, it will continue to be the same cycle of trying to educate people over the same issues and topics.
For a campus community that emphasizes being inclusive, I want to know how, at this stage, we have not heard about the group of people who placed these posters around campus. Sending out the message was a good step, and we all appreciate the administration shedding light on this issue; however, we need to do more than just remind people how inclusive Concordia is and start actually being inclusive.
Yes, Concordia is a relatively safe campus, but minority students do not feel safe on this campus anymore because we are out here trying to figure out if this event was the last of its kind, or if it was just the beginning of a trend we will start to see. If for some reasons best known to you you do not agree with my opinion or the opinions of other people, reach out and meet up in person. I am more than willing to have these conversations with people, especially those people who are willing to help and improve themselves. However, if you are like the young man who left such hateful comment on Prashansha’s last article, know that hiding behind your computer/phone screen will not help you achieve anything.