AN INTRODUCTORY READING FOR DISCUSSION OF CULTURAL SENSITIVITY AT BELOIT COLLEGE AND BEYOND - Part I written in 2006 is here. Part II written in 2011 is here.
Distributed by Cecil Youngblood, Director of Intercultural Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org in April, 2011
Giving Context to the N-word.
Use of language such as the N-word is representative of the ignorance and bigotry that permeates some of the mentalities that poison our campus. For this reason, Beloit College should adopt policy that counters hate speech with education surrounding those issues on an individual level.
The posting of flyers that contained the N-word was done purposefully, with full acknowledgement of the discomfort that many faculty, staff, and students would feel. The issue of hate speech and discrimination, whether it be directed at a certain race, sexuality, gender, religion or any other group has time and time again been brought before the Beloit College community. But very little has been done and those that share our concerns have been ignored and patronized. We are fed up and because of this there has to be a change in both policy and culture on our campus.
When the N-word is used daily towards students of African descent, when a student is heckled because of his or her sexuality, or when a Christian is demonized for their religious convictions, the members of our college community are content with ignoring the issue or with merely providing the target of the hate speech with minimal means in which to address the issue. Yet when we publicly post hate speech so that everyone must recognize it, when we print it in black and white so that you cannot just pretend you did not hear it, there is immediate demand that these words be removed and that writers be reprimanded for this act. Some people may believe that the posters created a toxic environment. Yes. We agree, and yet we did not break any policy. Instead of dwelling on your own discomfort, take a moment to recognize how much more toxic the environment is that we live in; if these words can be directed to an individual and no one is reprimanded. Or take a moment to challenge what role you may play in the perpetuation of that environment on this campus.
While we may be able to take down our signs, until there is policy in place that commits this school to educating and instilling in its community an understanding that hate speech and discrimination is unacceptable, we will never be able to fully address the incidents of bigotry and intolerance on this campus.
- Concerned Students for Policy Change