[eDebate] an extension of skinner

Michelin C. Massey michelinmassey
Thu Apr 10 19:39:29 CDT 2008


I read Beth Skinner's post and was reminded of a story
from my college days about my first experience of
white people standing up against racism.  I wanted to
share it all with you.

For those who don't know me, I went to the University
of Colorado in Boulder, CO.  Boulder is one of my
favorite places because it's so beautiful.  I have a
lot of special memories from going to college there. 
I love visiting my younger sister who is a senior
there.

One of the more unfortunate parts of Boulder is its
lack of diversity.  To say that the campus or the town
is "very white" would understate the point.  To give
you an idea, there were approximately 3000 non white
students on campus my first year there, including
graduate students.  This was out of a population of
35000 students, including graduate students.

Like many 18 year olds going to college, I was in
search for friends and ready to begin anew.  I thought
that it would be fun to rush a fraternity.  I enjoyed
that process greatly.  I got to meet a lot of new
people, ate some free food, and enjoyed the
camaraderie  of the houses.  

One house resonated with me in particular.  I knew
several of the members of that fraternity from my
class.  It was also the cleanest of all of the
fraternities I visited.  When they invited me back for
round two of interviews, I was pretty sure that I had
it in the bag.  Several of the guys I met said they
really wanted me to join; that they'd definitely vouch
for me.  I had a lot of fun at that party.

The next day, when the invitations to pledge were
handed out, I was denied.  I was really disappointed
in that fact.  I figured it was just for the best,
though since I probably couldn't afford the $5000/year
that they charged in dues.

A year later, I had a class with one of the guys who
told me that he would go to bat for me.  I asked him
how the fraternity was going and he gave me a
perplexed look in response.  Here's a recount of our
conversation...

Me: Why do you look so strange about the house?
Him: I'm not in X-frat anymore.  I decided to join a
business fraternity.  
Me: Really?  Why would you quit?
Him: You.
Me: Huh?
Him: You were the reason.  The night we decided who
was in and out, you came up.  A lot of the brothers
said that since we already admitted another n-word,
that we had our fill.
Me: What???
Him: Yeah, I was completely taken back.  We argued
about it until 5 in the morning.  After they wouldn't
budge, I and about fifteen other guys quit right then
and there.

Mind you, this fraternity had 60 returning members --
zero non-whites.  Over a quarter of them quit in one
day to stand up against racist bullshit.

Am I saying that white people should quit debate if we
don't shape up?  No.  But, I am saying that one of the
things that we can all do is to examine how our
individual behaviors may contribute to a system of
domination.  I am saying that we have a choice to
stand up against discrimination even if we benefit
from it.

We really do have choices as a community.  I hope that
you'll use the skills this activity has given you and
think about the ones you make.  

Sincerely,

Michelin Massey

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