By Jay Chary
Within the past year, there has been an exponential surge in the discussion of race relations in the United States. While some (white) people love to question why people have to make everything a race issue, discussing these matters is extremely important in order to recognize that the experience of one person is not always the same as the experience of another person– whether it is attending college, working a job, etc.
Mattie Lippe mentions not wanting an entire group to be stigmatized for the actions of a few individuals, and I want to offer a few points that are worth thinking about. Doesn’t a person join a fraternity or sorority to have a shared, respected identity with fellow individuals who were deemed worthy of carrying this identity? To be a part of something that is bigger than oneself and have a sense of belonging?
You endured an extensive process in order to be chosen to carry this group’s name, but when things go awry, you strive to disassociate yourself with the people who have tarnished your group’s name in order to preserve the group’s reputation. This is an understandable course of action, however, these people who tarnished the collective’s reputation were, after all, chosen to be a part of that group.
These people, even after these events have taken place, still represent that organization as a whole. Other members of this group, that have actively sought out to be a part of, should not be able to pick and choose what represents them and what doesn’t. Accountability means accepting your mistakes, plain and simple. Not accepting your mistakes while adding in, “…but we donated to [insert charity name here]!” for a desperate means of damage control.
Not wanting a group to be stigmatized due to the actions of some individuals is a great sentiment, and if people didn’t pick and choose when to utilize this sentiment, lots of toxic aspects to our society wouldn’t exist. Stereotypes, racial micro-aggressions, prejudice, the list could go on. But until that happens, let this incident be a cold reminder of what it is like to be on the receiving end of these stereotypes.