Last week, the Collegian Editorial Board wrote about cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes and, like clockwork, a former South Dakota State student donned blackface for a costume.
He apologized afterward, but the student and his actions are not the main issue.
The issue is a systemic lack of mandatory cultural education programs resulting in a failure to teach that student and others about racism.
SDSU administrative officials sent out an email saying they want to create a dialogue and to foster the conversation of racial issues. But it’s a conversation that ends in echo chambers on social media — echo chambers where people defend or attack a white student using racism to mock a protest against the brutalization and murder of young black men at the hands of police departments.
Whether they know it or not, those defending blackface are perpetuating the dehumanization of black people throughout the history of the United States. Whether those attacking him know it or not, they are denying any sort of dialogue being formed.
If people lie and plead ignorance to save themselves, that’s one thing, but there needs to be an environment created on campus of true education, not simply reacting to racism and saying there’s nothing that can be done but create a dialogue.
SDSU should not be considered a school of ignorance. There needs to be mandatory education on racial relations so students cannot fall back on ignorance in defense of insulting entire races and cultures.
Students should not have to search out information on racism. The education should be readily available and mandatory. First-year seminar classes are the perfect place to include education on these issues.
Though the school has reached out to the offender, it is clear students at SDSU don’t just want to open a dialogue with people perpetuating racist behavior. The dialogues currently being had are with people who are well aware of the issue, for example the Differences Dialogue.
The people participating in those dialogues are not the problem, so we need to make sure that, as a community, we’re reaching out to those who do not attend voluntarily.
At Monday’s Students’ Association meeting, members of the Black Student Alliance called upon their student leaders to give support to minorities on campus.
Productive discussion led to a course of action and SA approved a motion to create a task force that will work to make a student support system for minority students.
The diverse culture of students on SDSU’s campus need this kind of action in the face of racist behavior, but not only from students.
They require and deserve direct action from the administration in defense of their race, culture and dignity.