Letters to the Editor are written by members of the Elon community, not ENN staff members, in response to ENN coverage. Letters to the Editor and other opinions content are separate from news coverage.
On April 2, Elon News Network released a staff editorial titled, “Racist themed parties and costumes should not be tolerated.” At first glance, I was excited. Elon News Network was going to tackle a huge problem with very broad implications not only to this campus, but campuses across the nation.
Or, so I thought.
The article, although may have meant well, to me seemed painfully off base. Let me preface this by saying I do not speak for every black student on campus. Just like every other community, the black community is not homogenous in thought.
When reading the article, I immediately became defensive. I honest to goodness was not looking for something wrong. I wanted to appreciate this article. Even now reading over it, I do see the good in it.
As a minority in this world it is easy to succumb to the feeling that you have to accept help, say thank you and shut up. However, help that is not coming from a place of being informed and genuine understanding can often prove to be more harmful than anything else.
There is no evidence to conclude that any minority community has “thug life” or “gangster culture” tied to the very essence of its history and culture. Why attribute those characteristics to any specific race or group? Never once in my household were those things I would use to describe my mother, brother, sister or father.
So when did it become okay to defend those attributes and label them to a minority community? The truth is, it was never okay. It just became normalized.
Associating negative characteristics and labels with minorities is something so deeply rooted within our society, we have begun to defend these features by falsely preserving stereotypes in our culture.
In the editorial, ENN stated, “But when the people in the culture of which these outfits belong to wear them, they are often ridiculed, judged or discriminated against.”
There is an issue within our society that these stereotypes are often tied to minority groups. Why could that not be the topic of this piece? This article had a real shot at educating this campus.
ENN has a platform to show students why they were wrong instead of just telling them that they were. This article should have discussed the implications of associating these stereotypes and labels to minority communities, where they come from and why they are wrong.
Instead, this article consequently contributed to the legitimization of these labels and stereotypes by protecting where they came from and explicitly projecting them onto minority groups.
The article mentioned some very important cases at other universities in which those students specifically target other races and ethnicities. The theme “Shock your mom” is not inherently racist or prejudice. What some students made of that theme is a different story of course.
In an attempt to jump to the rescue of minority groups of campus, this editorial piece missed an opportunity to actually help minority groups on campus. It did not educate. It did not address the real problem. It did not help.
I am not sorry to the ENN editorial staff for this response. BUT, this is of course just an opinion. There are many who will disagree with me. This is also not an attack on those who wrote this editorial.
So rather than jumping to defense, I encourage you to listen to these words coming from a minority student on this campus. Take this time to delve into an opinion other than your own and gain a different perspective.
Class of 2018
Student Government Association Executive President