Thoughts on Appropriate Action in Face of Racism

Mandy Hogan

To the Editors:

I write this letter to call for recognition, for acknowledgement, for responsibility. I recognize the gross injustices against communities of color on campus, in the town and in greater society, along with the historical and current repression of LGBTQ people. I acknowledge that I am privileged by my race, perceived class status and gender identity.

Society calls people who do this “allies,” but I take responsibility for the fact that I am not an ally — because the word suggests that I am making things better, and while I strive to practice an anti-racist politic, all too often I am able to be silent, and silence is complicity. I am a white, queer woman who has lived in Third World House and Afrikan Heritage House. All too often, I have not acted. Too often, I merely sign my name in agreement. Signing on is not enough. I am not done, and we, as a campus, are not done.

White students, confront your racism and work through your history. Frustration is understandable; backlash is not acceptable. Do not gossip about communities or students of color. LGBTQQIA students, realize the interconnectedness of your oppression. (I affirm that not all oppression is the same in experience or origin, but it is nonetheless connected.) Note the white supremacy of our own community; acknowledge your complicity in furthering white hegemony and male supremacy. Fight against heteronormativity and do not settle for marriage or military acceptance; strive for systemic, societal change. Women, counter male dominance by fundamentally changing your relationships.

I take responsibility for my daily actions. I recognize that I am racist in ways that I do not see or know, and I seek to do better, to be better. Anti-racist politics may not be perfect, and the results may not be realized in years or decades — but working for change is still worthwhile and honorable.

In solidarity,

–Mandy Hogan,