Follow up to “A message from a minority class president: To the oppressed and their oppressors”

Students presented a video entitled "We Are Gettysburg Too" at the Town Hall Meeting last January. Photo credit to Annika Jensen.

Students presented a video entitled “We Are Gettysburg Too” at the Town Hall Meeting last January. Photo credit to Annika Jensen.

By Anthony Williams, Contributing Writer

Allow me to set the record straight.

In response to my posting “A message from a minority class president: To the oppressed and their oppressors,” I received many accolades and many criticisms. I am beyond grateful for both. As a writer, this is not an apology or a retraction, but it is a follow up of sorts. My job as a writer is to make my message as clear as possible; my first article wasn’t able to do that, so hopefully this one will.

First, there are obviously plenty of students of color who are doing #GettysburgGreat things on campus already, who are oppressed and who rise in the face of oppression. My article was speaking to those that feel that oppression has impeded them from being successful and from making impact on campus, which it shouldn’t – ever.

Second, I now understand that certain language used in the article, such as “minority,” was troubling in identifying students of color on this or on any other campus, due to its marginalizing effect on an already marginalized population of people.

Furthermore, it is certainly NOT our job to educate those who are ignorant to the oppression toward students of color on this campus. However, when events, comments, or situations occur that disturb students of color because they are oppressive, I personally feel that we should (as we certainly have) respond to it. Educating others as I was educated about the implicit implications of my article and word choice is something that did and can go a long way.

Ultimately, I would like to clarify one last thing. My profiling of myself in the article, was just that: a profile. I used myself as a case study not to brag about my financial aid, for instance, but to demonstrate that it was not awarded to me for being a student of color or from a low-income household. There are plenty of students of color on this campus that also serve as leaders, and for that I am proud to be one of them. I am proud to associate myself with such a revolutionary cohort of individuals.

And to those of whom that have left comments saying that we are not oppressed: educate yourselves. Ask students of color on this campus if they’ve ever felt mental pressure or distress and/or the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control, and then ask them why. Next, ask yourself if you’ve ever felt these definitions of depression and think about what that dichotomy should mean to you. What it ought to mean to an institution of higher learning. What it needs to mean to leaders everywhere at Gettysburg being primed to impact the outside world.

Then, tell me what you think.

Thank you to everyone who has given me feedback and has made this mediation possible–here’s to the first article and to many more to come.

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