Racists can talk to me when they grow a spine
Want to know what a coward looks like? Look no further than Hofstra University. There are cowards in every department of every single school, in any office, of any on-site campus job. There are cowards in dorm buildings, in classrooms, in lecture halls, at office hours. The cowards I meet all look the same: same smart clothes, same outlook on academia, same empty promises for change, same plugged ears and plastic smiles. Cowards always want to talk to me about change, but rarely want to do the work.
The cowards I meet have no spines, and they all hold power. The deans of the Honors College have the ability to hold their colleague responsible. From my own experience, they hide behind one another and legalese and pathetic apologies emailed out late into the night on a Thursday at the end of the semester in a weak attempt at reaching out to students.
The president of this university refuses to answer questions completely and aims to make students feel not only inferior, but also as if they are liars about their own traumatic experiences in classrooms he has yet to even step foot in. All these cowards, acting as if their education and credibility mean that they have all the solutions in the world, tell me what I want is unattainable and unrealistic.
They act as if the things I want are radical and inappropriate, an ignorant millennial bent on the instant gratification of horrible revenge.
What I want is for professors who say the n-word up to thirty times in a lecture period to be held accountable for their ingrained racism and sent to mandatory trainings. I want professors that think it is acceptable to not only send students “love letters” but also to write a letter of apology as if they are deserving of forgiveness to be fired because that professor is putting the safety of students at risk. I want professors who purposely misgender students to be made to understand no one cares for changed hearts, just keep bigotry out of the classrooms and treat students with respect.
I want these people to look themselves in the mirror and see what I see: cowards. I want them to understand I will not be collaborating with them because they have little to no backbone when it comes to advocating for students.
I want faculty and administrators to understand that my friends and I will not be backing down and we will not be having “conversations” until they are willing to hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for their past transgressions.
My friends and I will not be swallowing our pride and our traumas and behave in a way that is palatable for consumption. I did that for the second half of my freshman year and what it got me was a breakdown and an inability to walk into the Honors College offices without someone to accompany me.
Change is not easy and it is not cooperative. It is not cohesive and it is not palatable.
Change does not mean forgiveness, it means fixing behavior – or else. Change means being willing to put things at risk whether it be reputation, academic standing or relationships and making change a non-negotiable inevitability of the future. Change means commitment to its necessity and its terms of existence.
Change means you have to grow a backbone. Then, we’ll talk.