All posts by Quincy Clarke

DACA On College Campuses

Just under five years ago, on the thirtieth anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, then-president Barack Obama put forth an executive order that created the immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In higher education, this policy has conferred many benefits upon certain undocumented residents of the U.S., including limited protection from immigration officers and access to public and private financial aid packages.

DACA grants immigrants a two-year grace period during which they are treated as temporary residents and are eligible for work permits. The policy is only available to those who (a) came into the United States before their sixteenth birthday before June 2007; (b) are currently in school, are a high school graduate, or have been honorably discharged from the military; (c) were born after June 15, 1981; and (d) are not a threat to American security.

Those granted DACA status have no path to citizenship, yet they still can receive a number of benefits normally exclusive to legal permanent residents of the U.S. These benefits include being able to obtain a driver’s license in all fifty states, having an ‘exempt non-citizen’ status that absolves them from the fines for not having insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, being granted special tax refunds and credits, and being able to obtain temporary social security numbers.

The benefits of DACA for its grantees, however, go far beyond these basics and extend deeply into the American higher education system. In twenty states, DACA immigrants are allowed to register for public community colleges, colleges, and universities with an in-state resident status, which halves their tuition costs in many circumstances. In six states, they qualify for state-funded financial aid packages for public colleges and universities. On top of any state-sponsored financial aid packages for which DACA grantees qualify, there are many private scholarships and grants available. States like Utah offer private funding through public universities to their DACA students.

Some private colleges such as Amherst College and Columbia University offer the same need-blind admission policy to both domestic and non-citizen applicants alike. Others, such as Pomona College, a member of the Claremont Consortium, go further and do not differentiate between documented and undocumented applicants for either admissions or financial aid. Pitzer College and Scripps College, also members of the Claremont Consortium, each offer full, renewable grants for one undocumented first-year student per year. Scripps also recently announced they will follow Pomona’s example and will begin extending need-based financial aid to all undocumented students, regardless of their DACA status, next fall. Meanwhile, at the other Claremont Colleges, Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College, undocumented students must apply for external scholarships such as the Cal Grant if they require financial assistance, though at Harvey Mudd, they are encouraged to apply for international student financial aid.

Once DACA students have graduated from their respective undergraduate institutions, state law determines the opportunities available to them. In California, for instance, DACA students may acquire licenses to practice law, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy; can study abroad; and, for the University of California postgraduate programs, they are eligible for all financial aid, grants, and fellowships applicable to U.S. citizens.

Nonetheless, even with all of the benefits of the DACA program, DACA students still fear that their information might be passed along to federal immigration officers. While all DACA immigrants’ information has been shared with the Department of Homeland Security, ICE may not access this information at this time. Many DACA students fear that this could change under President Trump. In response to these anxieties, DACA students and their allies have advocated that colleges become ‘sanctuary campuses.’ Like sanctuary cities, they would protect the local undocumented community from deportation and arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Unfortunately for DACA students, neither of these sanctuary environments have any real legal force, as ICE can still conduct raids on a sanctuary campus. The most that these sanctuary communities and immigration activists can do is to refuse to share information with ICE, to hand over undocumented immigrants, or to coordinate with local police as they attempt to assist ICE. Given that ICE only has around five thousand agents, help from local police departments is necessary for successful ICE operations.

Even within the five-college Claremont Consortium, the magnitude of each school’s efforts greatly differ. Pomona’s president David W. Oxtoby acknowledges that calling the college a ‘sanctuary campus’ is not entirely accurate as Pomona cannot offer either literal sanctuary or legal authority in protecting its students; yet, of the five colleges—arguably of virtually all liberal arts colleges—Pomona offers the greatest amount of aid and support to its estimated fifty to sixty undocumented students. Pitzer and Scripps, on the other hand, have declared themselves to be sanctuary colleges, but the services designated for their undocumented students are much more limited than those of Pomona. Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna put even less resources toward supporting their undocumented students, have not changed their nondiscrimination policies to the extent which Scripps and Pomona have, and neither institution has come forward offering to help these students find legal aid if needed.

Colleges have been eager to throw public support behind their undocumented students, as evidenced by strong support for DACA among college presidents. All five presidents of Claremont’s undergraduate institutions, along with the presidents of 634 other institutions, signed a letter put forth by President Oxtoby that DACA should not only be sustained, but should also be expanded. Calling DACA’s expansion a “moral imperative” and a “national necessity,” President Oxtoby goes on to state that undocumented students “represent what is best about America.”

Not all college administrators, even those who signed it, are completely on board with the progressive sentiments President Oxtoby expresses in the letter. Claremont McKenna’s president Hiram Chodosh wrote to the CMC community, “I believe that the Statement’s specific advocacy for DACA may … compromise non-partisan values vital to higher education.” All five schools, however, including Claremont McKenna, have promised to offer counseling resources to their undocumented students and to require that Claremont College Campus Security officers not ask students to disclose their citizenship status.

Pomona Progressives Create Whites-Only Club To Fight Racism

On Monday evening, a number of White Pomona College students formed a new club called “We’ve Got Work To Do: White People for Deconstructing Whiteness.” The club, open to students from all five of the Claremont Colleges, aims to “work on owning our racism, deconstructing our Whiteness, and to engage in movement & action toward dismantling White Supremacy.”

“White people at the 5C’s: we’re all racist. we’re all microaggressive. [W]e are all not only complicit in, but actively perpetuating white supremacy,” states an advertisement for the group. “Pretending that we are not racist and hoping that no one will discover our racism really doesn’t cut it. [W]e need to ACTIVELY be doing work to deconstruct our whiteness (and holding our peers accountable in doing the same).”

“Recognizing that White identity is a self-fashioned, hierarchical fantasy, Whites should attempt to dismantle Whiteness as it currently exists,” explains the group’s Facebook page, quoting Ian Haney López, a leading racial justice scholar. “Whites should renounce their privileged racial character, though not simply out of guilt or any sense of self-deprecation. Rather, they should dismantle the edifice of Whiteness because this mythological construct stands at the vortex of racial inequality in America.”

Though the community is meant to be an open space for the discussion of students’ Whiteness and its negative impacts on people of color, students within the group must be “white people who believe white supremacy exists, whether [they] have owned that [they themselves] are racist or not.” The founder of the group clarified that mixed-race students with a White parent would be able to attend, but only if they had the end goal of deconstructing their learned Whiteness. Additionally, White students who do not believe in White supremacy are not welcome.

“The group is trying to address racism in the white community. We’re not racist and we don’t hate white people,” wrote Kate Dolgenos, a senior at Pomona who joined the organization, in an email to the Independent. “I’m really happy this group has formed and I’m excited to see what we’ll do throughout the semester.”

Not all students are as enthusiastic, however. “While I cannot comment on how the group intends to define and ‘deconstruct’ a white identity, as a cisgendered, politically liberal white male,” Dalton Martin, a junior at Pomona, said, “I feel this group may do less for persons of color rather than more. I feel that trying to codify and effectively martyr an image of white culture detracts from attempts to engage and stand in solidarity with marginalized identities.”

International students, too, found the group to potentially be harmful. “Outside of the United States, being ‘white’ is not a unified and malignant identity,” wrote one international student in an email to the Independent. “I think their brash generalization invalidates the experiences of many people who would be considered White by their standards, which does not harmonize well with embracing one’s own identity and self-love.”

“We’ve Got Work To Do” will soon be meeting to discuss their short- and long-term objectives as a community as to how to approach and handle their Whiteness, as well as how their Whiteness affects communities of color both on- and off-campus.

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Image: Flickr

#BlackLivesMatter Makes Martyrs Out of Criminals

 

Not a month goes by without Black Lives Matter dubbing another Black American a martyr of the fight for Black equality. This month, their martyrs are Sylville K. Smith and Korryn Gaines: two armed, long-time criminals who resisted arrest. Smith, a man with a lengthy rap sheet, was pulled over at a traffic stop and fled his car while armed with a stolen gun in an area with poor police-civilian relations. Gaines was fatally shot two weeks ago after threatening to kill police officers who arrived at her house with a warrant for her arrest. Gaines pointed a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun at the responding officers who did not shoot her initially. Using her gun and her five-year old son as a human meat-shield, she presented enough of a threat to the police that a SWAT team was deployed to her house and ultimately shot and killed her.

Black social media, The Huffington Post, and other Leftist, Afrocentric news sources have spun these stories as evidence of White supremacy and “systemic racism.” Violent protests erupted Saturday night in Milwaukee, Smith’s hometown. The protesters destroyed businesses and targeted White people for beatings while chanting Black Lives Matter slogans. Black Lives Matter and its supporters have decided that any African-American shot by a cop or a White civilian—regardless of circumstance or just cause—is a martyr. Almost all of these “martyrs” have been just like Smith and Gaines: violent criminals who threatened an officer’s life.

Here are the unadulterated stories of BLM’s other heroes:

  • Bruce Kelley Jr., a man with a lengthy rap sheet, was drinking publicly with his father in a busway gazebo. When approached by police officers with a ticket for drinking in public, Kelley Jr. began to walk away and then, after being told to stop, rushed the officers. Attempts to tase Kelley Jr. failed because of his heavy coat. A K-9 unit then pursued Kelley Jr., who stabbed the dog as it grasped his arm. He was then shot and killed by a pursuing sergeant.
  • Meagan Hockaday, a domestically-abusive mother and the fiancée of the 911 caller, was shot after charging at the responding officer with a knife less than twenty seconds after he arrived at her apartment.
  • Charley Leundeu Keunang, a homeless, mentally-ill, illegal Cameroonian immigrant, threatened a 911 caller reporting a nearby robbery as soon as responding officers arrived. After ignoring commands and being increasingly aggressive—at one point, even reaching for an officer’s gun—Keunang fought with police and was shot and killed.
  • Ezell Ford, a mentally-ill man pursued by two police officers for erratic behavior, attacked an officer approaching him and attempted to reach for the officer’s gun while being subdued. The other officer shot Ford out of fear for his partner’s life.
  • Michael Brown, a young man who had just stolen cigarillos from a local store and threatened the store’s owner, was stopped by a responding officer who noticed that he and his friend fit the description of the suspect of the robbery. Brown rushed the officer, fighting for the officer’s gun, and was fatally shot.
  • Jonathan Ferrell, a man who crashed his car while drunk-driving, banged on the door of a stranger’s house. The homeowner called the police, and when they arrived, Ferrell charged at them. First, they used a taser to subdue him, but because it missed, the officers resorted to shooting him.

Those mentioned above had charged at the responding officers. Rushing police officers after their repeated attempts to subdue a subject with words, pepper spray, or a taser is a clear threat to their lives. In a news segment on Black Lives Matter protests, a Black Lives Matter activist himself underwent use-of-force training at a police academy. After he “shot” the subject in question in various scenarios, the activist explained that he “didn’t understand how important compliance was” and that his attitude on use of force had changed. Regarding compliance, the following Black Lives Matter martyrs either disregarded a police officer’s orders, resisted arrest and failed to submit to lawful commands, or fled from the scene of the crime or traffic stop.

  • Alton Sterling, a man previously convicted of violent offenses which left him unable to legally obtain, own, or carry a firearm, was the subject of a 911 call in which a homeless person reported that a man selling CDs had threatened him with a handgun. Sterling’s possession of the firearm and his non-compliance after repeated attempts by police to suppress him through various non-lethal means led to his death.
  • Jamar Clark, a man previously convicted of first-degree aggravated assault and awaiting trial for a high-speed chase arrest, was breaking up a fight between the host of a party and his ex-girlfriend who had obtained a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order against him. Clark pulled his ex-girlfriend away from prying eyes and battered her, prompting an onlooker to call for paramedics. Not only did Clark try to interfere with his ex-girlfriend being escorted to the ambulance, he attacked the police officer who tried to hold him back—which ultimately resulted in his death.
  • Freddie Gray, a man with many arrests and citations on his rap sheet, five of which were then active warrants, fled from police in a high-crime area in possession of an illegal switchblade. He sustained fatal injuries after a rough ride in the back of a Baltimore Police Department van, during which he was cuffed but not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Eric Courtney Harris was fatally shot by a reserve sheriff’s deputy while running from a sting operation to arrest him for drug- and arms-dealing. The deputy claimed that he had confused his taser for his gun.
  • Jeramie Reid, pulled over after running through a stop sign, moved around the car against the orders of the police officer after disclosing he had a gun in the glove compartment. After the officer retrieved the gun, Reid attempted to exit the vehicle without the prior instruction of the officer, but the officer kept the door closed, wary that Reid may have had a second weapon on him in the car. Again, without prior instruction, Reid attempted to exit the vehicle—this time after the officer had moved back—and as Reid exited the car, he was shot.
  • Tamir Rice, a young boy playing with an Airsoft pistol with the orange safety tip removed, pointed his toy gun at passersby and the police when they arrived. Not knowing it was fake, the police shot Rice.
  • Eric Garner, a man selling loose cigarettes without tax stamps, resisted arrest until the responding officer took him down and put him in a submission hold until he passed out. Garner was obese, and had asthma and heart disease, which contributed to his death.

Of those listed above, each of whom was shot by a White police officer—a demographic around which Black Lives Matter constructed much of their central narrative—the only cases in which the officers were not charged were those of Brown, Rice, Clark, Kelley Jr., and Sterling—all of whom were killed justifiably without evidence of misconduct. In the cases of Harris and Gray, the White officers were respectively charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree depraved-heart murder along with involuntary manslaughter.

While the majority of Black Lives Matter’s heroes were justly killed, there are some examples of clear-cut police misconduct. Yet, in each of these following instances—except in the case of Boyd’s shooter who was found not guilty due to an atypical directed verdict—each officer was placed on leave pending investigation, fired, sentenced to up to fifteen years in jail, and fired, respectively. Bland’s suicide would have been noticed sooner had the police either properly conducted their hourly rounds or put her on suicide watch; given her multiple past suicide attempts, it would have been protocol to check on her every fifteen minutes. Their failure to do so was indeed a policy violation, but there is no evidence that systemic racism is to blame for her death; both the state trooper and sheriff involved were fired.

  • Philando Castile, a man pulled over in a traffic stop, was killed by an officer after disclosing he was legally armed, and then moving his hands as one officer told him not to move while the other officer had told him to show his license and registration.
  • Corey Jones was killed by a plainclothes officer while waiting by his car after it had broken down. While doing burglary surveillance, the officer claimed that he was confronted by an armed subject—evidently Jones—but he gunned down Jones without probable cause.
  • Akai Gurley, a resident of one of the most dangerous housing developments in New York City, was accidentally shot by a rookie officer while patrolling his building.
  • Rekia Boyd, a young woman out with her friends, was shot at a distance by an off-duty detective who claims Boyd’s boyfriend’s cell phone appeared to be a gun.
  • Sandra Bland, an avid Black Lives Matter supporter with a history of suicide attempts and a lengthy rap sheet of misdemeanors, was found dead in her jail cell after she hanged herself with a bed sheet. She had been pulled over for failing to signal a lane change, but was ultimately arrested after assaulting an officer and resisting arrest at the traffic stop.

The following were all killed by civilians, so to use their deaths as evidence of racism in police conduct is nonsensical. McBride’s death, in particular, was likely avoidable and unnecessary, and a jury agreed with this sentiment, sentencing her shooter to seventeen to thirty-two years in prison. This punishment goes against the Black Lives Matter narrative that the justice system perpetuates systemic racism and fails to punish oppressors.

  • Renisha McBride, a young woman who drunkenly crashed her car in the middle of the night, banged on the door of a stranger’s house looking for help. The resident of the home thought McBride was breaking in and shot her with his shotgun.
  • Jordan Davis, a high schooler who started a verbal altercation with a civilian after refusing to turn down his music, reportedly pulled out a shotgun and was then shot by the person with whom he was arguing.
  • Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, hoodie-clad high schooler pursued by the community’s watchman through his gated community, attacked him after being provoked. After a violent struggle between the two, the Hispanic watchman—who claimed to be in fear for his life—stood his ground and shot Martin.

BLM celebrated each and every person here as a martyr, as if each individual contributed meaningfully to Black America and our fight for equality. But instead, we find that almost all of Black Lives Matter’s martyrs were mentally ill, prior criminals, the subject of a 911 call reporting a criminal act, or pursued by police for doing something illegal. These are not role models for our community. By glorifying the deaths of Black people who were killed under justifiable circumstances and failed to comply with lawful orders from police officers, Black Lives Matter is damaging the credibility of its argument against police brutality and doing a disservice to those seeking justice for actually unjust killings by police.

Black Lives Matter would have a much more compelling case if they were willing to concede that shootings by police can be—and often are—justified. Refocusing on issues at specific police departments—such as poor training (notably in the cases of Gurley and Harris) and bias due to the statistically disproportionate amount of crime committed by Black Americans—would give them more legitimacy and have more of an impact on the national discourse on crime, policing, and police brutality.

Image Source: Flickr

How #BlackLivesMatter Failed Black America

As a Black college student, I have felt immense pressure from other Black students to choose between joining the insular, single-minded Black community and being seen as a traitor. Being mixed-race has made it even more difficult, as both my Black identity and loyalty to my race are questioned when I express my views. I am quite openly proud to be Black, but I do not fit—and refuse to ever fit—into the mold built by the self-indulgent Black community here at the Claremont Colleges; I would rather be labeled a “shady person of color” or a “coon” by my Black peers than validate their insecurities and inaccurate opinions which have fostered such dysfunction and divisiveness within the Black community.

Black Lives Matter has been nothing short of a hindrance for Black people, especially those who do not subscribe to the fallacious narrative that America is a bastion of hostile White supremacy. In its constant bid for media attention, the group has blocked traffic on major highways, hijacked political rallies, disrupted college speakers, and, since last summer, have on a continuous basis preached anti-cop rhetoric. In the aftermath of the murders of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, members of the group broke into a police officer’s house and praised the Dallas police massacre.

Black Lives Matter’s statistical illiteracy, specious rephrasing of events to fit their melodramatic narrative, and constant screaming when they do not get their way not only depicts Black Lives Matter as a movement of emotion-driven ideologues, but also paints all Black people as less credible.

Black Lives Matter also reinforces White superiority. In fact, it thrives on it. The movement as a whole operates and feeds solely on garnering guilt and pity from White people, which plays directly into the false idea that Blacks are inferior to Whites. As Dr. Michael Hurd has said, “Pity is based on the premise: ‘Your vulnerability allows me an opportunity to be superior.’” Once Black Lives Matter “wins” and the inferiority complex it promotes is satisfied, we as a people will fall decades behind in the fight for cultural equality.

The Black Lives Matter movement vilifies and punishes potential allies who aren’t “doing enough” for their cause, rather than embracing a constructive discourse. They block White students from their events and refuse to listen to any student who disagrees with them on even the smallest details. Black Lives Matter has become a discriminatory organization which only serves to whip the Black community into a frenzy, and it is only a matter of time before students on campuses radicalize and hold violent demonstrations like those which destroyed Baltimore and Ferguson.

What little central organization Black Lives Matter maintains has embraced militancy and the dream of rebuilding the Black liberation movement—a movement which secured its place in history largely through the lengthy rap sheets of FBI most-wanted terrorists, cop killers, and professional rioters who served as its leaders. Prominent Black Lives Matter leaders support mob actors who loot as a form of activism, such as Joanne Chesimard—better known as Assata Shakur—who killed a state trooper and committed multiple robberies, who flaunted opinions entertaining race war, and who believed that violence was an acceptable means to a greater end.

Some have disregarded the actions of these Black Lives Matter supporters as unrepresentative of the movement at large. But with no meaningful effort within the movement to expunge violent actors from its ranks, the organization has become a safe harbor for incitement, murderous rhetoric, and what can only be described as domestic terrorism. In fact, as defined by the federal government, Black Lives Matter fits within the definition of a domestic terrorism group under all terms of Section 802 of the U.S. Patriot Act. Despite this, a petition posted on the White House website to recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization was recently dismissed.

Advocates of the movement cannot pick and choose who they think represents Black Lives Matter; the organization has to claim responsibility for any and all actions taken under its name. In present day Black activism, Black Lives Matter members are responsible for not only the Dallas police shooting, but also for anti-police chants such as “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!” and “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” These violent slogans aim to intimidate the public, discourage police officers from doing their jobs, and threaten those who might stand in the way of the Black Lives Matter movement.

If Black Lives Matter really wants to make a positive difference for Black lives, they have to start by addressing the realities they have chosen to ignore. Black men alone have made up 40% percent of all cop killers in the last decade despite comprising only 6% of the population. They are also eighteen-and-a-half times more likely to kill a cop than a cop is to kill them. According to FBI crime statistics, Black people (both juvenile and adult) commit 51% of America’s murders, nearly 30% of rapes, 56% of robberies, and 33% of aggravated assaults. Despite these high violent crime rates, Blacks make up only 26% of police shootings. Black Lives Matter loves to complain about the “disproportionate killing of Blacks,” but a recent study from Harvard University confirmed that police shootings have no racial bias.

Any good work that Black Lives Matter has done for the Black community is overshadowed by the movement’s promulgation of anti-police, anti-White, and sensationalist sentiments. Beyoncé, a number of the parents of those shot (such as those of Michael Brown), and even Barack Obama have been ignored as they called for peaceful protest. Black Lives Matter must begin renouncing their violent members and setting the course for a new era of harmony and trust between minority communities and our nation’s law enforcement.

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Image: Flickr

To Burn in the Melting Pot: How Can We As Students of Color Better Address Diversity?

“I’m in awe of the diverse backgrounds, talents and academic abilities of the new members of the Class of 2020,” Pomona College’s Dean of Admissions proudly stated in an announcement introducing the admitted class of 2020. “And I look forward to welcoming them to the Pomona community.”

Students and faculty alike are thrilled about Pomona’s admission of the most racially diverse class to date, and understandably so. Racial diversity is certainly something that should be taken into consideration when celebrating a year’s admits and in looking at the progress we as people of color have made in academia. However, race is not the be-all end-all for defining diversity on campus, and nor should it be the sole cause for rejoicing; it is ultimately the diversity of thought that is praiseworthy in building an interconnected, catenated community. Being eager to learn about others’ experiences, I will not feel excited about Pomona’s “diversity” until the ideologies, political and ethical contrasts, and upbringings of students are as dissimilar, yet still communicable. As a person of color myself, I feel more entitled to confront the number of issues I see with how we as students of color talk about race—not how White people should act—and because I evidently don’t identify as White, I am more concerned about what we can do to start the dialogues about race. The diversity of Pomona’s student body as it stands now is only skin deep, and to make these differences more than a pat-ourselves-on-the-back statistic, we as students regardless of race have to undertake a shift in how we address identity.

The dynamic diversity of thought begins where the now hollow definition of “diversity” ends: once the students are admitted and become members of the community. Among those celebrating this historic moment are the current Pomona students of color who push for “safe space” communities built to avoid confrontation with those of dissenting viewpoints—including those within their own demographic(s). Speaking from experience, this alienates people of color with different experiences who may come to a school as diverse as Pomona to seek out dialogue among people with similar identities, yet varied points of view. Defenders of the safe-space phenomenon often argue that it is needed as a coping mechanism as a form of self-preservation, but the reality is that any method resulting in removing oneself from opportunities to reach out to other people will, whatever one calls it, make both parties less likely to connect.

Creating a vibrant conversation between different identities and experiences is the only way to take the fullest advantage of diversity on campus. But so far, this conversation has not seemed possible. The endless “discussions” on campus engender a warped sort of echo-chamber validation that further incentivizes students to avoid conversations with those who hold conflicting views or opinions. Student-led discussions, such as the sustained dialogue on silencing and “tone policing” held at Scripps last semester, have amounted to nothing more than a way for students to express aggressive hostility to opposing views while silencing any kind of rebuttal or challenge to their beliefs. To these students, as Sophie Mann so aptly put it, feelings assume the role of facts, and both the vilified and the vilifying parties go their separate ways bereft of intellectual growth.

While I have witnessed both White and non-White students distancing themselves from conversations regarding race, White students do not expect the same sort of understanding of, and empathy towards, their identity that many students of color do. This sentiment makes sense, as White students’ racial identities are generally not challenged nor made vulnerable by the presence of their counterparts, as it is such the other way around; this is to say that White people do not need the kind of consolation many students of color have come to necessitate. Their desire for commiseration is unmet because they are seeking a number of paradoxical and mutually incompatible forms of treatment from White students. In looking to White students for validation and affirmation of their racial identity, they simultaneously believe White students are unable to comprehend the very concept of racial identity. They then embrace a self-victimizing mentality which garners only pity, not respect, from White students. Though much of their unease and uncomfortability is legitimate and warranted, the fellow-feeling they receive from White students, ironically in the form of pity or subtle patronization, is not as respectful or as congenial as they would like.

What confuses me the most is how although students of color want White students to look through their eyes, they expect that White students come into conversations about racial identity already looking through the eyes of a person of color, or at the very least with an adequate amount of knowledge about race. After conjecturing that many White students do not have the faculty or the background to discuss race, they insist on White people “educating themselves” because they have Google and, as has been explained to me on countless occasions, they have “the necessary researching skills, given that they made it to such a prestigious college.” But how can students of color seriously expect White people to even care about their issues when they push and pull White people so much? White people are not under any actual obligation, and have no need to, become more racially sensitive and aware. When students of color will not take the time to explain what race means to them, they then  give up the right to complain about how ignorant they believe White people to be, given that their silence is contributing to it. These antinomies result from both insecurities of the racial identities of these students of color, along with a feeling that if somebody—against whom these students are biased—legitimizes a belief system that may prove conflicting with their own, then their beliefs are somehow of more merit and thusly more authoritative accounts of the “person of color experience.” The problem is that although a few White students may genuinely not want to discuss race, or even spend time with people of color, the rest are quite receptive and open to hearing about people of color’s racial experiences, but are made less so by the exasperating struggle to even know where to begin learning.

But this is not only the fault of the students; the administration is also involved in further lowering the impetus of White students heeding racial issues with serious consideration. Given the recent push on campus for college-approved, racially-segregated safe spaces, the Claremont Colleges have become complicit in furthering the self-congratulatory, mutual admiration society that limits the discourse they claim to want to promote by having students of so many unique, yet dissimilar identities. What’s worse, the colleges play no role in preventing what comes from these delineations: entitled, one-sided demurring where even people of color are humiliated and silenced when their views do not fall in line with the progressive narrative. If admitting such a racially manifold group of students results in their self-removal and lack of ideation from exposure to other identities and experiences, does racial diversity warrant celebration at all?

In their efforts to diversify the student body, Pomona recently adopted a strategic plan created by the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity entitled “Lighting the Path to 2025: A Vision for Diversity.” In this document, the word “diversity” is defined as “the multiple, intersecting dimensions of difference that help distinguish one individual or group from another.” This plan does include a section on seeking to “foster a climate that welcomes dissenting views,” though the only strategy proposed to do so is to “promote social spaces of interaction between faculty, staff, and students.” But in practice, these spaces—such as the sustained dialogues—are not settings where discourse is encouraged. Rather, they provide a bully pulpit for those students who have no interest in considering or internalizing others’ opinions, and discourage students with different views from contributing to the discourse on campus. As far as I have seen, it is the students of color who are reluctant to adapt to a climate of dissenting views. Within the echo chambers of these race-specific communities, an aversion to the consideration of opposing viewpoints  is glorified.

Much of this vision only seeks to integrate a greater number of people of color into Pomona without addressing the already present and crippling fissures disuniting the student body: students of color’s feelings of disregard towards their identities, White students’ feelings of being villainized despite them making their best efforts to engage in a dialogue with students of color, and neither party having a successful means of communication. Students of non-minority demographics are expected to embrace and embody these other identities while remaining silent about their own, even though they themselves contribute to the diversity of Pomona. They are asked to internalize the experiences and opinions of marginalized students, yet there is no reciprocation of this sentiment on behalf of “non-marginalized” students. If even as diversity stands now there is this much dissonance, how can we expect the community to develop with even more variation in the student body?

While the administration of Pomona itself can create as many resources, opportunities, and conversations from the top down as it wants, it is up to the students to challenge and better themselves and their perspectives. Before we begin to focus on admitting more diverse students, we need to establish a culture of discourse so that those already here can freely express their beliefs in a dialogical manner. What we need to do as a community is to understand that each and every student admitted to Pomona has their own unique and equally-valuable narrative regardless of race. With these various upbringings, creating conversations that may be uncomfortable or objectionable to some—yet pivotal for expressing the identity of others—may help bridge the gap because there will be less hesitation to have challenging discussions. Much of the diversity that we as a community seek will come from our exposure to the diversity of thought, not the diversity of superficial qualities.

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Image Source: Flickr