After many months of pushing, protesting, demanding, and fighting for the space by student activists, the Kalamazoo College administration has finally installed a much overdo Intercultural Center.
The room was put into place to provide a safe space for students of color to be free of the racial macro and micro aggressions they face every day on this predominantly white campus.
While its doors remain open, and a bright welcome mat draws you in, please keep one thing in mind: This space is not, and will never be, for us white folks.
There, I said it.
I know that the administration, afraid of the backlash it would receive for telling us that one tiny room on campus is off-limits to us, has not explicitly banned white students. I think that we, as white students, should work to enforce the intercultural center as a space for students of color on our own.
Your rejection from the center is not because you are a blatant racist. You could be incredibly passionate about combatting racism, but that is not enough in this case. Our existence is perpetuating a racist system of oppression, whether we attempt to fight it or not.
Think about it this way: everywhere on this campus we have spaces to protect, enforce, and celebrate our white privilege.
Whether it’s the abundance of white professors in our overly-white classes, the outpouring of support from our overly-white counseling center, or the fact that we can simply say racist things and have no repercussions for it, we benefit from our privilege all the way down Academy Street.
Students of color, on the other hand, have no place on this campus that will cater to their needs.
We need to acknowledge that we create an unsafe space for students of color. If we can make one tiny room in Hicks void of white voices, one tiny space where students of color do not have to deal with racism for a few hours, or even minutes, that is a step forward.
If you hear or see white people attempting to infiltrate the space, show them this article and step in. Tell them about the tens of other places on campus to study that will cater to their whiteness.
We cannot eliminate racism in the education system tomorrow, but we can make baby steps to help provide a safe space for students of color on this campus.