Apparently No One at Tufts is Racist…
Note: While this issue is Tufts focused, consider race and identity relations at your school.
So this past Wednesday, a fellow Jumbo and friend of mine wrote an opinion piece in the Daily with the headline: “No One at Tufts is Racist”. Which, for lack of better phrasing, is a bold ass statement. While at the heart of the argument he is correct, no one walks around screaming epithets at minorities, discrimination has shifted from an overt to a covert action. Before reading the article, I was bombarded with discourse around this kid’s ignorance and how stupid and privileged he is. Well, that discourse is also true, but that doesn’t mean we cannot use this time as a space to educate. Privilege and the ignorance that comes with it are not the fault of this kid. We go to a progressive school where any sort of discriminatory talk would be immediately dealt with–which is not the case in many progressives spaces. I, however, could not fully understand or refute the argument until I read the article myself.
Upon reading it, I have to honestly say most of what he says is correct for his experience at Tufts. From my understanding, this kid was at one time an outsider (religiously) and has in many ways faced prejudice growing up. I am not in any way trying to undermine his experience on campus. However, at Tufts he gets a special privilege that he may not be afforded in most of the world. Being Jewish isn’t a minority here, CORRECTION: it is not a perceived minority. If you walk into about any classroom the chances of you seeing 2 or more Jewish people are pretty high. That is not the case for most students of color. I have taken several classes where I’m the only person of color, or often the only queer person. My experience of being a marginalized person is very present on this campus. There are many more social institutions where religious faiths, be it Christian or Jewish, are affirmed–especially in the Northeast and in many metropolitan cities. Understanding that, it is hard to compare religious minorities to that of racial minorities. Even though members of the Jewish faith are a small portion of the population, the amount of wealth and clout they have is often comparable to their Christian counterparts.
Understanding this, it is important to note that minorities should limit how much they try to access each other’s experiences. I have never nor will ever grow up Jewish in a neo-Nazi space. I will never grow up a Latina in rural Texas. I won’t even grow up as a gay, black, middle class boy in New York. As people we all have access to different social experiences, and prejudices, and privileges. It is ignorant to assume that my oppression or successes are that of other minority groups.
The same way I don’t have access to his experience I think it is unfair for him to access mine and generalize how discriminated I, or people like me, feel. I don’t think people at Tufts are racist either but we go to a school that doesn’t require to consider others experiences. It’s not prejudice it’s ignorance. Not knowing. We go to a school that honestly tries to circumvent race and identity relation by highlighting how we are “Global Citizens”. While that value is legitimate, it is so much harder to be a global citizen if you feel marginalized in your own home. And not everyone is ready to joke about it.