ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

LETTER: Herald editorial shows white privilege at work

A recent Herald editorial both unintentionally and eloquently illustrates for readers how white privilege operates ("Kudos to UND for photo findings," Page A4, Oct. 7).

A recent Herald editorial both unintentionally and eloquently illustrates for readers how white privilege operates ("Kudos to UND for photo findings," Page A4, Oct. 7).

A young woman who was the direct target of one of the most recent shameful incidents on campus has said she moved out of her dorm room to escape the harassment. A Snapchat photo posted on her cell phone and directed at her, an ethnic minority, was captioned, "Locked the black b**** out." All of the students in the captioned photo were white.

The editorial muses that this incident may have been the result of "teasing" or "bantering" and stunningly concludes that the university did not discipline the students because it likely found that these were "thoughtless," not "racist," incidents.

Racism, per Webster's dictionary, infers racial prejudice or discrimination. Whether a racist act was meant maliciously, intentionally or thoughtlessly does not negate its impact or render it a non-racist act. Indeed, that the editorial expresses no empathy or compassion for the victims of racist incidents in our community clearly illuminates how privilege operates in the majority culture.

Because this is not the editorial board's experience, the board members invalidate that it is the lived experience of others in our community, who do experience it - sometimes daily - as a result of being visibly different.

ADVERTISEMENT

I am also concerned about how UND President Mark Kennedy's position has been subtly mischaracterized in this editorial. Kennedy swiftly and unambiguously condemned this and another recent racist act on campus. While it was not found that students involved were guilty of violating UND's Code of Student Life, and while Kennedy indeed "condemned the thoughtlessness that led to these incidents," he never stated that these incidents were not racist. He has pressed the university to embark swiftly upon a review of its policies, structures and processes to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus community.

A coarsening of political discourse across the nation has contributed to an increase of racially charged acts in our schools and workplaces. Responsible media outlets across the country have acknowledged this context and engaged their communities in some soul-searching about their deepest values and aspirations.

Such efforts have been notably absent from the pages of the Herald.

Carenlee Barkdull

Grand Forks

What To Read Next