During the height of the racial protests at Claremont McKenna College last November, CMCers of Color issued a list of demands including the resignation of Dean Spellman and the establishment of a permanent “safe space” that would function as a Resource Center for students from marginalized backgrounds.
The student group wrote an official proposal to the administration, but also created a private Google doc with other miscellaneous items they wanted for their safe space, such as kitchen items and a sound system.
Among this list is a Shady Person of Color (SPOC) board, which includes a royal court of five members of the CMC community who opposed the group. Brandon Gonzalez, the King SPOC, is the Assistant Dean of Admissions. Gonzalez led the diversity initiative that CMCers of Color felt misrepresented CMC. The Queen SPOC, Hannah Oh (CMC ’15), was the Editor-in-Chief of the Claremont Independent at the time, and coauthored an editorial critiquing the protestors’ tactics. In a similar vein, Nathan Tsai (CMC ’17), the “Ignorant SPOC,” wrote a letter that garnered 277 signatures in opposition to the protestors’ demands.
Tony Sidhom (CMC ’17) was included on the list because he was critical of the movement as a whole, particularly with regards to the methods they used. Sidhom didn’t agree with the idea that CMC was institutionally racist, and was vocal in raising his concerns at Student Senate.
The Court Jester SPOC, David Brown (CMC ’19), was critical of the protestors’ lack of logistics and data as well as their tactics. Brown told the Independent, “If [CMCers of Color] had provided a single piece of evidence indicating that they were being systematically kept from performing well, I would have believed them. If I, in my own experience, had noticed a single instance where I was being held down based on the color of my skin I would have believed them. But they didn’t, I didn’t, and I don’t believe them.”
“I find the fact that they named themselves ‘CMCers of Color’ an insult. Instead, they purposefully use their name to manipulate their appearance as if to seem they were anything more than just 30 militant new wave liberal students,” Brown added. “I heard one of the protestors called a friend of mine ‘too rich to be black.’ Doesn’t it seem a little strange to you that the people supposedly fighting racism are the ones perpetuating racist stereotypes? The entire notion of fake or ‘shady’ people of color is just blatantly racist. Since when does being a person of color not allow you free thought? The whole point of this is so the protestors can still feel good about themselves by saying that they represent all ‘real’ people of color campus, but in order for them to consider you ‘real,’ you have to be one of them. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he wanted people to be judged off of the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Oddly enough, the protestors have consistently done the opposite. The protestors are the most racist group on campus I’ve seen to date.”
The use of the term ‘SPOC’ to dissociate students of color who dissented from the protest movement was widespread last semester. “Pomona’s new Latinx club was actually planning on creating a ‘SPOC calling-out’ committee” to target Latino students who did not agree with them, stated Kevin Covarrubias (CMC ’18). “The fact that such an idea was even brought up is deeply disturbing. As a 5C community, we should be all for constructively engaging with each other while debating the actual substance of our beliefs, not indulging in baseless ad hominems directed at one another.”
Edit: This story has been updated to include the name of David Brown, who initially requested anonymity.