Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Does hate have a home at UMass?

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(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

In the last week of October, Professor Emiliana Cruz, an assistant professor in the anthropology department at the University of Massachusetts, found that one of her posters about the distinction between dialects and languages in Mexico was vandalized. The phrase, “Go home,” written in Spanish, was surprising to many, but not to me. For, contrary to what the University says, I do see that hate has a home on this campus.

From my first days at UMass, I knew this environment was very different from my past environment and I would definitely need time to adjust. Initially, I believed that it was the lack of racial diversity on campus that made the new environment I was in feel so different. I thought it was easier for white students to blend in and feel represented. However, upon talking to students and professors, I have come to learn that, for a lot of students, this is the most diverse environment they have ever been in.

UMass is considered a liberal school, mostly because it is located in Amherst, and some of the professors are liberal, but the student population is very diverse in political views. As I have discovered from seeing a David Duke bumper sticker on campus, we even have some people who support white supremacists at this school.

In Southwest Residential Area, I have encountered white men who say they feel “underrepresented” at school and in class, because for possibly the first time ever, they have liberal teachers who speak on the issues of race, gender and colonialism in a way that rejects the white male patriarchy. In my freshman seminar, a white man spoke openly about his distaste for hip-hop because he felt “silenced” by the underlying issue of race. To me, the white man feeling “silenced” seems to be a trend on campus, and I’m sure this is a cause root of much of the hate toward other people and ideas. And that’s understandable; I get pretty hateful when I come across people who silence me because they have different views than I do, such as white supremacists. My classmate’s comment frustrated me, but I am glad that he shared how he felt so I could argue with him about it. If the alternative to conversation in class is faceless vandals spewing hate across campus, then I’ll take the former any day.

As I’ve discussed with Professor Whitney Battle-Baptiste, a Bronx native and an associate professor of anthropology here at the University, many of the white students who are coming to this school come from towns and schools where everyone else looks like them and thinks like them; many have never experienced people or ideas that are different from theirs. This isn’t an excuse to be intolerant and disrespectful, but it does explain where some of their views may be coming from. Young minds need to be expanded in the classroom by conversation with students who are different from them and have different views from them. Nonetheless, she reminded me that our campus is a reflection of our nation, so naturally there will be divides and points of contention. You tell someone to “go home” because you feel threatened by them—and there are a lot of people who feel threatened in this country.

Around the same time as the vandalism on Cruz’s poster, my friend and I used our experiences with cultural appropriation to help other students in our political science class understand why it is an issue. Our teacher introduced the topic in the context of Halloween. All of the students in class could relate because during Halloween, our Resident Assistants asked us to be culturally sensitive in the spirit of hate not having a home at UMass. This was the first time that many students felt their creativity surrounding Halloween costumes was being curbed, but many still put their Bob Marley hats on and went to parties as “stoners.” Despite the conversation we had with our RAs at our floor meeting before ‘Halloweekend,’ I saw numerous hateful costumes; but I knew there was no stopping it. Instead, the conversation about Halloween had to become a conversation about culture. Speaking in class brought me out of my comfort zone because I don’t usually talk about cultural appropriation with people who have never experienced it. I could feel my liberal bubble popping. I could feel myself getting angry and hateful toward actions that I considered angry and hateful.

I do not think that we can abolish all hate from UMass, because as long as our school is a reflection of our nation, there will always be differences in opinion that cause tension. I think that the University administration has a good heart when it puts up banners that say, “Hate has no home at UMass,” but it’s inaccurate and inadequate. If that’s going to be our slogan, then much more has to be done, and we have certainly not solved anything yet. I prefer slogans such as, “Home for conversation,” or “Home for diverse ideas,” because we should be encouraging conversation around topics that can make people feel hateful. We can’t glaze over the issue of hate in our country and reject it; instead, we have to explore those issues and talk about them. I’m certainly not on campus to be the nicest and cheeriest person. I am not silent, and I am not always kind. I argue and bring up topics that may make others feel uncomfortable. But this should be embraced instead of covered up by a banner that says, “Hate has no home at UMass.”

Sonali Chigurupati is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Does hate have a home at UMass?”

  1. NITZAKHON on December 7th, 2017 5:53 am

    You cannot perpetually call people “racist” and “bigot” and so on, saying this to people who have never had such thoughts in their lives, without them reacting negatively.

    [Reply]

  2. Erik Mason on December 7th, 2017 5:54 pm

    “I do not think that we can abolish all hate from UMass, because as long as our school is a reflection of our nation, there will always be differences in opinion that cause tension.”

    Hate isn’t a reflection of anything except the person who chooses to “hate”.
    I am not concerned about folks with different “opinions” in any way shape or form.
    I know the difference between getting my feelings hurt or getting my jaw broken.

    When everything is racist nothing is racist.
    Why don’t you try and get along and be with the people you want to be with.
    Forget about the idiots.

    [Reply]

  3. Jack on December 8th, 2017 1:28 am

    You finish your article with mention of wanting open discourse, yet open with a broad stroke of all white men on campus as at best some stoolies from a 90%+ white suburb, and at worst the David Duke sticker owner. If you want a productive conversation you can’t assume your audience is so ignorant to the topic.

    [Reply]

  4. John Aimo on December 8th, 2017 6:04 am

    I wrote a commentary with a critical view of this commentary, the collegian didn’t post it. I guess the newspaper censors comments when it comes to exposing a double standard on racism.

    [Reply]

  5. RS on December 8th, 2017 1:19 pm

    It’s almost baffling how many white people these days respond to discussions of historic and social structures of inequality by blurting out, “but *I* never had any racist thoughts!! Why are *you* trying to make me feel guilty for being white?!?!” Uh, no one is asking about your secret thoughts or telling you to feel guilty about your genes. But covering your ears and shouting this kind of stuff over any discussion of racism as actually experienced in society does seem to suggest a guilty conscience of SOME sort…

    [Reply]

  6. NITZAKHON on December 9th, 2017 7:52 pm

    @RS:

    Because we’re sick and tired of being hectored by Critical Theory propagandists.

    We’re not racist. F you. End of story.

    [Reply]

  7. John Aimo on December 10th, 2017 1:21 pm

    In the comment I posted which was censored by the collegian; I detailed the racism of the author and often the only racism we see in our society is by minorities against other minorities and Caucasians. You can even see it in the language; most people are polite enough to refer to black people as african-americans, indians as indian-americans, mexcians,etc as hispanics. In the reverse the reference is just ‘white people’

    The author demands that people discuss race but when they do, she gets upset because they point out how they themselves face racism. The only discussion about racism has to be along the lines that minorities and liberals demand and they turn a blind eye to the racism within their own groups and that they espouse.

    This is why the ‘diversity’ and ‘no hate’ and ‘racism’ arguments will never be taken seriously because they aren’t genuine.

    [Reply]

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