The events of the past weeks have been harrowing, and our sympathies are with all of the individuals and groups who were targeted. For many years, the campus climate has been a source of stress and pain for too many Kalamazoo College students. In the internet age, hostility has manifested itself in new ways through Konfessions, social media, and email as well as in personal encounters. The latest incident was the most intense and violent of these.
Today, we see our community at a crossroads. Shall we respond to the crisis on our campus by shutting our eyes to it and carrying on as before? Shall we respond by publicly shaming, excluding, and silencing each other? We face a choice between paths of willful blindness, mutual recrimination, and respect. What we hope to see is a change in perspective, from seeing ourselves as rooted like trees in the ground of our race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and class to thinking of our interrelationship with each other. We are each dependent on each other, and our very sense of who we are is shaped by each other.
The philosopher from Martinique, Edouard Glissant, calls on people to see each other as opaque rather than transparent. According to Glissant, when we encounter another person, we should not pretend to know her or him based on appearance or any other factor. This obligates us to interact with people rather than judge them, and it requires us to investigate the opaque areas in ourselves. This can form the foundation for moving beyond labels to cooperation and communication. What we need is to work together to diagnose the problems in all of their specificity and plurality and to generate particular solutions. This must be a process that engages each and every staff, student, and faculty member at Kalamazoo College. It is our responsibility. As we move from Winter to Spring, we look forward to new models, responses, and voices.
The Critical Ethnic Studies Faculty