Diversifying Solidarity

Andrew Spano

To whomever carried out the utterly vitriolic and hateful remarks written in the Alumni Hall bathroom and yelled racial obscenities around the HRC and Curtis Hall, shame on you. Hatred of any sort is ignorant and wrong. However, with that said, I do not believe this is indicative of the prevailing attitude on our campus. There are always a few loose nuts in any community or institution. To view isolated incidents as a reflection of Colgate as a whole only adds further injustice.

While Colgate should have immediately denounced these acts, it should also conduct a full-scale investigation with regard to what happened in Alumni Hall. Do we even know it was a Colgate student? The public does have free access to our campus on a daily basis. At this point we don’t know who is responsible. Some people like to initiate things for selfish reasons. The very recent Ashley Todd incident–the white girl who claimed a black man carved a “B” for Barack in her face–comes to mind. Some other prime examples are the Duke Lacrosse tragedy or the Tawana Brawley case of 1987. A lot of assumptions were made, but it all doesn’t really matter until we have final truth. Either way, I’m not condoning these senseless acts, but just as in any other case, we should demand the truth before we rush to conclusions. That’s just how we do it in America. And talk about classless and ignorant, some have gone so far as to write online that incidents like these are a result of the policies of the Republican Party.

Was I the only one who felt puzzled sitting in the Chapel when African-Americans gave the fist for Black Power? To me, that doesn’t enforce racial unity. How does wearing a black t-shirt enforce solidarity? Shouldn’t we be wearing a zebra shirt? Even better, how about a tie dyed shirt? I’m not joking, nor am I being ignorant. I don’t feel that whites would feel any more unified wearing a black shirt than blacks would wearing a white one. Instead of wearing a symbolic color, perhaps we should forget emphasizing color and look beyond color. If we are in this together, then it seems like we ought to convey that message a little better.

Some of the things that were done and said at the Chapel rally this past Wednesday do not represent what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a personal hero of mine, stood for. Instead, they represent a more radical wing of the Civil Rights Movement. If the message of Wednesday was intended to portray the importance of integration, tolerance and wholesale solidarity, it wasn’t completely clear to me. Impassioned speech that promotes cooperation and unity is one thing. Impassioned speech that groups everyone together in order to enforce self-reproach is another. Perhaps we need to go back and review the words of Dr. King: “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Mychal Massie wrote in his daily column on Tuesday that he “personally couldn’t care less that Barack Obama is black.” Massie is a conservative African-American. While it is historic that a person of color has taken the role as the world’s most powerful man, the tears of joy and the idea that “justice” has been served reflect self-defeating and contradictory notions. That is, and I agree with Mr. Massie, why should we care whether we have a white male or woman, African-American male or woman, Asian-American male or woman, Hispanic-American male or woman, etc. as Commander in Chief? The point is that if we truly hold tight to and observe the words of our Founding Fathers and of Martin Luther King, Jr., none of this should matter-certainly not to the magnitude that has been demonstrated thus far since the election of Barack Obama. Everyone should vote for a candidate based on that candidate’s qualifications and policies, not the color of a candidate’s skin. I think that has been partially lost during this election-on both sides.

The true celebration of America’s coming of age with regard to racial tensions was the culmination of the after effects of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King: the very laws that reversed the past prejudices and instilled social justice. Granted, racial tension still exists because there remain bigots of all colors and races. This is unfortunate, but it is also a reality.

Having said that, America is the greatest nation in the world, bar none. Just ask Barack Obama.

Much has been made of “diversity” in light of the Presidential election and the inexcusable incidents on the Colgate campus. Diversity takes many forms: racial, gender, religious, sexual orientation, etc. But what continues to somehow “escape” from this whole “diversity discussion” on campuses nationwide is the very fundamental concept of intellectual diversity. Shockingly, the Right is not a dead breed in academia, nor are we few in numbers. But sadly, looking through “Left colored glasses” seems to be the only correct way of looking at the world today at almost all academic institutions. Not once since I have stepped foot on Colgate’s campus has any non-conservative suggested the idea of promoting intellectual diversity, and thus explore political and social ideas of all kinds. Racial and gender diversity are great things.

Now, let’s extend diversity to encompass all types. Perhaps through the acceptance of every type of diversity, including intellectual diversity, we can reach the type of solidarity we ultimately seek. Besides, if the left continues to suppress conservative thought on university campuses, who’s going to be left for the Left to debate? I can see it now: “Thursday’s Debate: The Most Important Ideologue: Marx or Engels? Persson Hall Auditorium, 4:30. Slices will be served.”