Cowards’ commentary: Yik Yak and the protests

If you’ve read my pieces before, you probably see me preface everything I say. That’s what I’m about to do right now. I am white. I am cis. I am straight. I have a lifetime worth of privilege. For all of those reasons, maybe I should not be writing this. But I think it is an issue that we need to talk about. And we can’t just say that having one conversation about race in America solves anything. Really, it solves nothing. But if we don’t talk about it, how will we ever progress to a place where the values we say we hold in America ring true in our actions?

Let’s just start by reviewing some of Yik Yaks I saw on Tuesday. I don’t even use the app, but I saw on Facebook that someone had anonymously posted: “You got black emojis now f**king relax.” Excuse me? Before I begin a rant about the ignorance contained in those seven words, let’s move on to other yaks. “Pretty racist of the protesters to turn this into a ‘my people’ vs ‘your people’ affair. Whatever happened to ‘All Lives Matter’?” “Progress can be made through dialogue, forums, and other means…disruptions are not cool bro.” “Can’t wait until the next sensationalized case about a criminal (probably black) getting shot while trying to flee. #criminallivesmatter.” I could go on. There were some more positive posts in response to the negativity, but what concerns me is that so many people attacked those who participated in the protest, claiming it disrupted their education.

How many times have you skipped class? How many times did you arrive back from your vacation a little too late and had to miss one extra day? To those of you who feel offended because a protest “disrupted” your class, I am not sorry. I am sorry that I did not participate in the protest, but I fully support the brave students who did participate. The ignorance in the Yik Yak posts that I listed above are some of the reasons why we need protests such as the one that happened today. To think that small cartoon characters can make up for the daily injustices that people of color face is, for lack of a better term, bullshit. Also, I am sick of hearing “All Lives Matter.” People like myself have been told since the day they were born that their life matters. So when someone says “Black Lives Matter,” it is not a statement saying that some lives matter and others don’t. Instead, it’s an assertion against the idea that has been perpetuated in our society for as long as it has existed.

I had my own moment of ignorance earlier on Tuesday regarding the protest. I saw the students and was glad they were doing it, but I turned to my boyfriend and wondered out loud whether these students were preaching to the choir. I too quickly assumed that Colby is a place of tolerance. For that, I am sorry. Today has been a reminder that racism is everywhere, and from my place of privilege I overlooked that the Colby I thought I knew does not coincide with the reality on the Hill.

On top of all of this, these posts are anonymous. Would these students say these things to their friends? Would they be comfortable if suddenly their name were attached to the statement? I write this article not thinking that my action is anywhere near as important as those of the students who participated in Tuesday’s protests. Instead, I write this article with the intention to continue a dialogue that needs to happen.

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