‘Blackout’ brings much-needed attention to race


Last week, I covered an event on campus called Blackout Week. The event, which was much more like a movement, sought to get the campus talking about racial issues that plague the campus.

The students of the movement brought forward the issue of strangers asking black students about their hair and touching it. They also demonstrated what it was like to constantly be asked and have to prove that they go here.

As a reporter, I was very impressed with the fact that students, on their own, took this initiative despite the fact that hate would encounter them throughout much of the week.

What they did on this campus should be considered a great service to the community. The way that much of the campus responded, unfortunately, cannot be seen in that same light.

Following the first day of the movement, cowards took to Yik Yak in order to bash the movement and to show their true natures behind the screens of their phones.

One comment went as far as to say that African Americans were better off in slavery. Just as bad were the comments that made the issues faced by students of color a trivial matter.

Why is that just as bad as the comment about slavery? When issues are made trivial they are never changed. Of course African Americans will never be reverted back to slavery, but they do, in fact, live with daily struggles that need to be resolved immediately.

When these issues were brought to the attention of the campus, many turned away and ignored them. They turned their backs because they could not relate to students of color.

A majority of this campus is white and, more specifically, white and male. With that in mind, most of this campus is never asked about their hair. They are never petted like an animal. They most certainly never have to prove to anyone that they go here.

Heck, I’m white. Of course I go here. Of course I am not a “doid” — I am white.

To ask a white student why they go here, in their minds, is just plain stupid. Yet for members of minority groups on campus, it is a daily struggle.

The privileges of being white make many blind to the microaggressions that occur on a daily basis. What is worse, many students are not willing to accept that they do have privileges, even when they are blatantly obvious.

This lack of understanding forces students of color to deal with these microaggressions practically alone.

To say this type of racism and ignorance doesn’t exist is just a flat-out lie. It still very much alive. But, it may not always be obvious. It exists when people use the term “doid” and give that silly word a negative connotation. It exists when, at night, you see a student of color and wonder if they go here. It exists when you see it and do nothing to change it.

When I went to the talks throughout Blackout Week, I noticed one common trend: I was the lone white male. The talks were almost always just attended by students of color and white women. Yet, the majority of campus is white and male.

How can we expect change while so much of the campus is willing to ignore it? The simple answer is we can’t.

While a few may be able to initiate the change, the majority must embrace it for it to occur. That was the goal of the Blackout movement.

As many of those who participated in the movement did, you should go out and put yourself in an uncomfortable position. Not only will you be better off than before, but so, too, will the entire campus community.

The whole campus community should follow the example set by the Blackout movement. Do not be a passive bystander and ignore these daily microaggressions. Instead, through active participation, you can help generate the change that needs to occur on this campus.

Blackout Week cannot be limited to seven days and a handful of students. It needs to spread daily to every nook and cranny of this campus.

The majority of the campus needs to stop ignoring the problems that occur far too often here. If you disagree with something, make your voice heard.

We no longer live in the days of slavery, but we still very much live in a society where minority groups and issues are cast to the side because the majority cannot relate nor understand how greatly they affect the lives of these groups.

What I see on this campus is like what the comedian Louis C.K. said: “I’m not saying white people are better. I’m saying that being white is clearly better.”


  1. Kudos to Andrew Cassarino for a well written article. Too bad the Concordy made your story last in the list of stories.

  2. I’m glad to see this kind of reporting on here. There are very serious issues of race that need to be addressed in the Union community, and should have been addressed for years already. Although it’s disheartening to hear that when an attempt is made to talk on and bring light to these issues that the intended audience isn’t there, it’s good to see that the discussions and conversations are happening. More of the administration needs to take an active and public role in encouraging these discussions and types of movements, because the school needs to lead by example.

    Then again, you can’t teach empathy, and if there’s one thing I remember from my 4 years at Union, it’s that a large number of the white men on campus lack that capacity.

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