Lawrence University is an institution rooted in white supremacy. The message sent to students of color has repeatedly been an overwhelming “you do not belong here,” and while there were strides made to fix the racist orthodoxy of this campus, events this past week reminds us of the historical and structural oppression that is grafted onto students of color.
There is a group of students that honestly believe that the freedom of speech for white people is in jeopardy. Because students pay lip service to ally-ship as if it were a deity that will grant them social empowerment, without any concern for their own implicit bias. This means that ‘allies’ are insincere in their work and are actually hiding the fact that they do not agree with what they are saying.
But we can’t ignore the trauma that people of color face by existing in this school. ‘Allies’ at Lawrence rarely do anything to combat institutional racism. Instead they uphold it by giving the false impression that this school is liberal. A group of white-supremacist students decided to use people of color as a scapegoat for an issue that is caused by the structures in place to protect white supremacy. Lying about your racism allows one to maintain their power granted to them by the power structure while being supposedly safe from rebellion due to the inhumane atrocities placed on students of color.
And yes, they are inhumane atrocities. I have been traumatized again and again by the violence members of this institution have placed on me. While I am grateful to the many professors and friends who have supported me and helped me through these past four years, there has been no support for me institutionally. And so in a few weeks, I shall leave Lawrence with a certificate stating that I can write music, but I will not have graduated. Graduation implies Lawrence accepted me and has been my home for four years. Instead, I will live with the trauma I received from a conservatory that has an abysmal retention rate for students of color and am fortunate enough to be one of the lucky few to finish my undergrad here despite all the violence, hatred, complacency and trauma enacted on to me as a student of color.