Whose Diversity? has been dedicating endless hours to disseminating a message of equity and spent months drafting our list of demands. Despite our extensive efforts to communicate our vision, it seems that some people are still misinformed. Please see this example... And our response.
Why do you guys bash the school you attend? Why do you go here if its so oppressive? Outside of historically black colleges and community colleges it is extremely hard to find any universities with low enough tuition to make college more feasible for the working class. The U last year expanded its minority population despite attendance going down by almost one thousand students. It has also steadily been increasing its minority enrollment consistently for several years, the governor has already put a freeze on tuition which means the U cannot do anything to it, and they freed up over seventeen million dollars in grant money for students in need. Things are being done, this is an extremely progressive city in a progressive state, things just don’t happen fast anywhere. A big part of the problem is the kids that don’t even graduate high school in order to make it to college. I’m from a city that graduated forty seven percent of its public high schools’ senior classes last year, many of the students not graduating were minorities, virtually all of them were very poor. It’s not that the U is a particularly racist college, all colleges are, the entire college system is broken but you guys were still accepted here and are students here because you chose to be here, and they accepted you. I understand that diversity is a problem but its not a problem that will be solved by making demands. Demanding something never works, especially when you aren’t even recognized as a student group because you refuse to be one out of pride. Claiming that the university’s goal of becoming a better research institute is racist is also particularly striking because I personally take great pride in the work being done at this school. I also feel like I have experienced quite a bit of diversity and have never heard any of my three indian roommates, or any minority person I’ve interacted with make any mention of ill will towards the school for their handling of race. Virtually every one in my life at this school is from a foreign culture and/or has been raised in a less than privileged environment. I have written several papers on racism in our culture and I am extremely supportive of the advancement of all races and backgrounds and yes I am white so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about but it is my opinion that this group is overzealous and would benefit from taking a few steps back. You can’t fight racism with racism and that is why I find your claim that colorblindness is bad. Everyone has a history, regardless of their race, but you are your own person, your ancestors may have been slaves but why does that mean I have to treat you differently than I should treat any of my other friends regardless of their color. Culture is important and knowing where you come from matters but it doesn’t make sense for you to say that because you’re black I need to accommodate the fact that several generations ago someone related to you was a slave. There have been multiple genocides and mass enslavement of other groups of people in more recent history and several of those groups were white but we should give you special treatment? Have you ever heard of the potato famine? Where over one million Irish died and millions more moved to this country only to be forced to build a transcontinental railroad or in sweatshops? I want our country to change but you can’t expect a college to be able to change in a country that is exacerbating the underlying problems leading to our lack of diversity in higher education. Again I ask, why do you bash the school you attend? Feel free to make demands to the state or the federal government or legislators, attack the roots of the problem, but don’t attack our school. The world is changing but it won’t change until the older generations wilt and younger more open minded people are in control.
- We are not bashing the school we attend. We love our school, and we love our communities, and it is out of this love that we recognize the pain, hurt, trauma that people endure on a daily basis as members of this community. We also recognize that the most insidious kind of discrimination is the structural one, and the one that is being enacted by people who don’t recognize that they are engaging with oppressive language. Ahem.
- The University is a land grant institution. We suggest you run a Google search: “land grant institution + UMN.”
- Provide evidence for your claims of increased diversity.
- The University can take many actions to promote equity, hence our list of demands.
- This is not an extremely progressive city. You may experience it that way — we recommend this friendly tool: CheckMyPrivilege
- We agree that “A big part of the problem is the kids that don’t even graduate high school in order to make it to college.” Working to promote equity must happen at all levels, and we are doing our part. Are you?
- The fact that all colleges have a broken system does not mean we should all just give up. Some of us can’t afford to do that.
- Critical thinking should be required for all students — and part of being critical thinkers means that we can critique spaces even as we engage in them. We’re not sheep.
- Demanding the institution of Ethnic Studies departments worked. Demanding the right to vote worked. Demanding a 5-day workweek worked. Your argument is flawed.
- "I also feel like I have experienced quite a bit of diversity and have never heard any of my three indian roommates, or any minority person I’ve interacted with make any mention of ill will towards the school for their handling of race. Virtually every one in my life at this school is from a foreign culture and/or has been raised in a less than privileged environment." Gasp. Really? Reaaaaally???
- You’ve written several papers on racism — many of us live it every day, appreciate the writings of people of color, and live these theories. Please don’t compare the handful of papers you’ve written to the daily experiences of people from these communities. Just… No.
- Fighting for equity doesn’t mean “fighting racism with racism.” Our efforts are intersectional, they are about much more than race.
- We know about the Irish. In fact, we thank them for their service (read more HERE). We also know about the construction of whiteness as an identity in the U.S.; at one point, the Irish were not a part of that category. The U.S. government stole a third of Mexican land (which concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1848), but the Irish fought with Mexico against the U.S. This made the U.S. government realize that including only the British in that construction of whiteness was not a favorable move, so it made sense to start including other European folks in this category - hence, the recognition of Irish folks as white.
- People are still moving to the U.S., though not as a result of a famine — they are doing so as a result of U.S. imperialist tactics and as a result of the enactment of neoliberal transnational policies. We also see our University buying into these neoliberal policies.
- Assuming all people of color have ancestors who were slaves is problematic. It is also problematic to withhold naming those who did the enslaving.
- The world is certainly changing. Catch up.
- We learn a lot from our elders. We love our elders, they have wisdom and experience. We like their stories. For example, we greatly appreciate the unapologetic tone of Miss Anna Stanley’s re-telling of the story of the Morrill Hall Student Takeover of 1969. We certainly appreciate the stories of Chief Clyde Bellecourt, the pride he takes in having also taken over Morrill Hall in 1969. We love them, and appreciate their support of our work.