Monday, December 10, 2018

Toast to a More Inclusive Trinity: Stand in Unity

By: B. “Charley” Weeden ’12
Is anyone else angry at the costumes people wore this weekend?  Does anyone else feel ashamed that our college responded passively while our peers dressed in ponchos and glue-on-mustaches calling themselves “Mexican?” Or that women donned tan dresses adorned with turquoise jewelry as “Indians,” I jest, “Native Americans?”  How dare I forget my political correctness.  Yet I know that though I sit and write these words, when they are read in the paper, the main criticism will be on that very issue.  Political correctness has gone too far; we should be able to have fun, make jokes  and express ourselves, but at whose expense?  Not blacks, not anymore; not after various former students donned black-face the year before our senior class entered this fine institution.  And certainly not gays; after all, as my resident pointed out, the only reason for these highlighter-yellow fliers is because people are targeting the blacks and the gays.  We have learned all too well that such targeting is irresponsible and intolerable on this campus.  And we are doing so well with only three homophobic incidents this semester (at least one of which is a hate crime and one of which targeted people of color as well.)  Those are statistics of which I can be proud, but I digress.
To the issue of political correctness, I draw again your attention.  Minorities are being far too sensitive.  We must be careful what we give up in the pursuit of protecting everyone’s emotional safety.  What does it matter if some people overreact at a joke? Because at the end of the day, those dressing in these costumes were not, are not, racist.  To that point I must reaffirm my sincerity: the vast majority of those dressing in these costumes are not racist.  Many would argue that they are quite the opposite, so why does it matter?  We live in a culture where identity is important.  Until 1967, race determined who you could marry.  Until 2003, sex determined who one could legally f***.  Currently, there are 29 states that can fire or refuse to hire a person because they are perceived as gay, lesbian or bisexual (whether or not that is true). Yet this is not about the LGBTQ community; this issue lies directly with ours.
Jokes are used to rationalize the “other.”  They allow us to handle an identity with which we are not familiar through the one-dimensional profiling of that identity. When we wear and support our friends who wear these costumes, we say that these identities are not full members of our community because they do not merit the same protection that others do.  Moreover, we show our fellow students that they are a joke.  There are Mexicans on this campus.  There are Native Americans on this campus.  They are your friends, classmates, teammates and even roommates.  If we all belong on this campus, then none of us should be the butt of anyone’s joke.
And to those of you who are not offended by this practice, those of you who find my words too harsh or unfair, I urge you to contact me: bryan.wedeen@trincoll.edu. I will gladly engage in a conversation with you.  I have but one last comment for you, before dismissing this outright. Take a moment and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  Be as honest with yourself as you can be. Put yourself at a party where you are the only person of your race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.  Now imagine that people were dressed as you and laughing…it’s not pleasant.

Is anyone else angry at the costumes people wore this weekend?  Does anyone else feel ashamed that our college responded passively while our peers dressed in ponchos and glue-on-mustaches calling themselves “Mexican?” Or that women donned tan dresses adorned with turquoise jewelry as “Indians,” I jest, “Native Americans?”  How dare I forget my political correctness.  Yet I know that though I sit and write these words, when they are read in the paper, the main criticism will be on that very issue.  Political correctness has gone too far; we should be able to have fun, make jokes  and express ourselves, but at whose expense?  Not blacks, not anymore; not after various former students donned black-face the year before our senior class entered this fine institution.  And certainly not gays; after all, as my resident pointed out, the only reason for these highlighter-yellow fliers is because people are targeting the blacks and the gays.  We have learned all too well that such targeting is irresponsible and intolerable on this campus.  And we are doing so well with only three homophobic incidents this semester (at least one of which is a hate crime and one of which targeted people of color as well.)  Those are statistics of which I can be proud, but I digress.To the issue of political correctness, I draw again your attention.  Minorities are being far too sensitive.  We must be careful what we give up in the pursuit of protecting everyone’s emotional safety.  What does it matter if some people overreact at a joke? Because at the end of the day, those dressing in these costumes were not, are not, racist.  To that point I must reaffirm my sincerity: the vast majority of those dressing in these costumes are not racist.  Many would argue that they are quite the opposite, so why does it matter?  We live in a culture where identity is important.  Until 1967, race determined who you could marry.  Until 2003, sex determined who one could legally f***.  Currently, there are 29 states that can fire or refuse to hire a person because they are perceived as gay, lesbian or bisexual (whether or not that is true). Yet this is not about the LGBTQ community; this issue lies directly with ours.Jokes are used to rationalize the “other.”  They allow us to handle an identity with which we are not familiar through the one-dimensional profiling of that identity. When we wear and support our friends who wear these costumes, we say that these identities are not full members of our community because they do not merit the same protection that others do.  Moreover, we show our fellow students that they are a joke.  There are Mexicans on this campus.  There are Native Americans on this campus.  They are your friends, classmates, teammates and even roommates.  If we all belong on this campus, then none of us should be the butt of anyone’s joke.And to those of you who are not offended by this practice, those of you who find my words too harsh or unfair, I urge you to contact me: bryan.wedeen@trincoll.edu. I will gladly engage in a conversation with you.  I have but one last comment for you, before dismissing this outright. Take a moment and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  Be as honest with yourself as you can be. Put yourself at a party where you are the only person of your race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.  Now imagine that people were dressed as you and laughing…it’s not pleasant.

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