When I first arrived at Kalamazoo College in the fall, I was very happy to find a community that encouraged openness and free self-expression with an expectation that we, as students, respect our peers for who they are. This is the essence of having a politically correct society. However, there is a fine line between respecting the beliefs, race and sexual orientation of a person, and making policies that ultimately stifle the creativity of a given person or people.
I am referring to the theme controversy that accompanied this year’s Crystal Ball. The original theme of our annual drag dance was to be 1950s America, but because a group of students protested this theme, stating that it is offensive towards the non-white members of the college community because of the racist nature of the time period, it was changed to New York: An Empire State of Drag.
It is true that racism was virtually inescapable in the 1950s, but to be honest the United States has always been a racist country — from the Declaration of Independence up to the Civil Rights Movement (and to a lesser extent, in the present day).
Because of this, it seems like the banning of a 1950s theme would set a precedent for future period themes. For instance, a dance with a Roaring 20s theme would not be acceptable based on the racist social preconceptions of that time period.
Because of the nature of Kaleidoscope, the organization that puts on Crystal Ball, I find it hard to believe that this StuOrg was consciously trying to upset or offend anyone when choosing the original theme.
It appears that the individuals who protested the 1950s theme were missing the point of the theme itself, which was to choose a period that many of us perceive as being one of the squarest and least outgoing decades in American history and turn it on its head by making it a drag dance. This theme was not chosen to promote the ideals and attitudes of the 1950s, but was rather chosen to poke fun and laugh at these attitudes and see how far we have come as a society.