Moving on from the past: Confronting our problems
Due to recent racial incidents, it is clear we need more action from students - not just administration.
February 7, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Clad in a black beanie and heather gray Lane sweatshirt, the teenage boy approached. He eyed his group of friends up ahead and his pace quickened. He grabbed the arms of his closest friend and forced his torso onto his friend’s back and shook him back and forth.
The boy howled, “You’ve just been raped!”
They all laughed.
I continued walking to my classroom and tried to shake off what I had just witnessed. A boy using rape as a joke. A boy shaking another boy and calling it “rape.” Three teachers giving each other a look and walking into their rooms to begin class. In my peaceful and progressive bubble, it seemed almost unreal.
In his Farewell Address, Barack Obama said, “We must uphold laws against discrimination…. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change.”
As we welcome a new year, it is important to recognize the fact that hearts have not changed.
And honestly, I am sick of how we don’t talk about it. And when we do, the discussion is meant to express disappointment and give us a stern talking-to. The assembly Lane has had about the Kahoot incident is an example of this.
The assemblies were held by administration and it is easy to say they did not respond to discriminatory incidents the “right” way — when I left that auditorium, I heard giggles from the senior class, not talk about how important the speeches were. Specifically, at the Kahoot meeting, the statements were repetitive and changed little to no hearts.
But, what would have? What would have caused students to realize their mistakes?
It definitely will never be the disappointment expressed at an assembly or a student’s sudden urge to uphold Lane’s reputation. For many years, Lane has been known for its diversity and that diversity has been appreciated. It is not a platform for students to say hurtful statements to others who are different from them. I am lucky to learn in an environment where I feel safe.
The problem here is that the feeling of safety does not apply to everyone. Whether it be a rape joke or a student saying the n-word, we as community do not know how to handle these instances. When a racial issue occurs, we are so inexperienced with dealing with them that we forget to look at the greater picture of progress, or even discuss the actual situation at hand.
Again, we could look to administration to step in and stand up against it. Oh wait, they already have. Numerous times. Through assemblies and emails, they have been open about their feelings toward hate-filled speech.
In an interview, Principal Tennison said, “I have no tolerance for it. I think that exclusionary, hate-filled speech is wrong. Anything that excludes in a hate-filled way is reprehensible. I came here and made very clear that I wanted acceptance. I do not want tolerance, I want acceptance.”
For this exact reason, a student came to Tennison and Mrs. Hanly with concerns of people’s safety, especially with the beginning of Trump’s presidency. So, the student began a campaign called #LaneAccepts. This was one initiative I think made an impact on Lane students.
It made an impact because it was started by a student, created for other students. It was an act of pure care for others and guided by the need to feel equality at the a time where every minority feels that their existence is being threatened.
If we do not talk about these issues, hate and ignorance continues. If the teachers and students in that hallway called out the boy who used rape as a joke and talked to him about it, progress would have been made. If someone talked to him with no contempt in their voice, but a genuine attempt at discussion as to why this wrong, progress would have been made.
One voice, however, is not enough. Change has never come from just one person. This includes any administrator, student, or president. Change comes from a group of people who believe in one coherent idea, one way of thinking. If that way of thinking is acceptance, make your voice heard and make your voice loud.