The One Where Things Get Political

News flash: this is not a lighthearted episode of Friends, but rather my hot take of certain political tidbits popping up in my life right now that I think are important to discuss, namely the video of the University of Georgia TKE brothers that has been circulating on Twitter.

I don’t often get political on this platform (or on social media in general, save for this post from after the 2016 election). I try to keep things offline and have conversations face to face. That being said, our conversational world is changing. People are taking to social media and other outlets more and more when discussing important things like racism, capitalism, the GOP, etc. I don’t think there’s anything inherently right or wrong about that. It’s just how my generation, and the generations around mine, think and act and see and do. It’s how we interact with the world. We are both distancing ourselves from these topics while also bringing them closer to home. And that leaves me here.

I’m saddened and disgusted by what has happened at my university this month. It hurts to see us on the news for something that doesn’t reflect who we are. I came to UGA because everyone was nice to me. Being a white female, I haven’t experienced anti-white racism and did not think about racism at all when touring the campus in 2015. The students I met treated me with respect, and remarked with smiles and happiness when I told them I would be joining them as a Dawg the following fall. In the back of my mind, I knew racism existed but didn’t think that I would see it so out in the open as we all did on Twitter and national news this past week.

Many commenters have stated that they are not surprised. I am ashamed of that, but I am more angered by the fact that they expect racism to happen in the South simply because it is the South. Yes, we have a history of racism, bigotry, disenfranchisement, slavery, and other horrible, unspeakable things but so does the rest of the United States. This problem is not limited to the South alone. It involves all of us, an entire nation of peoples that need to learn to do better.

I consider myself an ally. I try to listen twice as often as I speak. I try to do my own research on racial issues so as to not put the burden entirely on people of color to explain their problems to me. But I know I am not doing enough. As a young adult I’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement, Baltimore, Charlottesville, and now members of UGA TKE posting racist videos joking about slavery on the internet. After each event I have reevaluated what I am doing to be an ally. Yesterday, during a conversation with one of the student organization executive boards I am a part of, I asked what more I could do. My advisor responded “you can do more by asking that question of yourself every single day.” That hit me harder than I thought it would, because it doesn’t only apply to race but to being an ally for all. You can always do more, be more, listen more, educate more. There is always something more to do even if you think you’re doing enough.

One thought on “The One Where Things Get Political

  1. My associations of the South with racism mainly come from growing up here. Some vignettes:

    First, my parents were not able to get married in Georgia because the judge refused them a certificate because my father is black and my mother is white. The judge knew my parents as classmates of his son (who is now a judge and similarly discriminatory) and would not allow a white woman to soil herself in that way. They went to another state to get married. I’ve been told on a few occasions that it was immoral that they be allowed to have me. More often, it was people seeing my blonde mother and my darker skin and asking if I was adopted. Even today, people see my wife and my daughter and ask about my ethnicity as they know their skins are not a match unless I have darker skin.

    Second, people in Georgia sometimes signal how they feel. I found a house that met what I was looking for over in Madison county near Athens. When I drove by it, I noticed a cluster of houses flying Confederate flags. Maybe these are just Lost Cause aficionados. But, maybe these are people signaling to black people in the area, this is not a place you will be welcome. Certainly, I was not willing to risk it being the latter.

    Third, you are correct that the South doesn’t have a monopoly on racism. Until recently, I think people were much more subtle about it. Some people define racism as really institutional systems designed to give an advantage to certain groups and in that light, it is everywhere. Policing strategies that focus on increased presence near and detaining people of color is everywhere. But common citizenry openly threatening, intimidating, and demonstrating against people of color is much more well known in the South. In the end, the stuff that is everywhere is the worst parts of racism and hanging around the neck of Southerners is an unnecessary deflection.


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