Humanity is incredibly fascinating and multifaceted. So forward thinking in some ways and so backwards in other. This past weekend some students in the School of Drama threw a White Trash Bash attended by other OU students some from other departments of the College of Fine Arts and I just wonder how many people have to say that this makes them feel uncomfortable before we stop abusing our power and privilege.
This semester we finally had a sit down discussion about how to make sure we are inclusive in this department and I stepped up and I said we cannot undermine the work that the professors are attempting to do in the curriculum with our social activity specifically citing the White Trash Bash of 2016 where two Black students led other White students in the department in chanting “All Lives Matter” and “No n***ers at the keg.” Those in the room agreed that we as students could do a better job and I left the room feeling heard, but about a month later here we are following the same problematic party that happened last year. Wanting to feel respected and included in these spaces should not be a far fetched ideal especially in a room of artists. If we are truly artists than I would imagine that we would try to show compassion and empathy in as many facets of our lives as humanly possible. Knowing that we have students in our department who have been thrown out of Frat parties for being Black, I have been called a “N***er” on my walk home, we have had multiple incidents this semester with posters & counter protests from White supremacists. Why then do we think it is kind, or okay, or in our best interest to mock the bigotry that is a very real experience for some of the students who are in class with us each and every day.
I don’t write these words because I want to dig up dirt or give anyone a bad name. I write these words because I’m hurt, I have a voice, and I need to graduate from this University knowing I did all that was within my power to make this a better and more inclusive environment. Making fun of entire groups of people is not funny and being offensive is not clever or funny. Even when we use offense as a tactic in our art we still need to be incredibly aware of whether or not we are doing this with a goal in mind or are we being offensive for the sake of being offensive. Making fun of Bigotry is only funny if you’re not experiencing it in real life. I’m not sure how to start the work to helping people become more empathetic, but I hope that we start to realize that the things we do and the culture that we help to create affects each and every person differently. The work is hard and we’re gonna struggle, but it’s also incredibly necessary.
If you’re interested in learning more about privilege and creating inclusive spaces email me at email@example.com.