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Huff Post: Ethnic Minorities Deserve Safe Spaces Without White People

2015-03-16-Ryerson-Racialized-CollectiveIN CANADA, Ryerson University, touted as being a school of journalism, made headlines last week when non-White students formed the “Racialized Students’ Collective” on campus and then refused to allow two White students from attending one of their meetings. As one would expect, media criticism of the affair has been slight to non-existent, reinforcing the double standard that “racism” and “hate” are the exclusive province of White people. (ILLUSTRATION: Members of the “Racialized Students’ Collective”)

In a blog written by Aeman Ansari for the Canadian Huffington Post, we read the following:

Last week The Ryersonian reported on an incident that involved two first-year journalism students who were turned away from an event organized by Racialized Students’ Collective because they are white. Since then there has been a lot of commentary on the piece and a lot of debate — a lot of the criticism is valid…

I am a person of colour and a journalist and so there are two conflicting voices inside my head. But in this case one voice, that of a person of colour, is louder and my conscience does not allow me to be impartial. I have to take a side

…However, the point to note is not that two white students were asked to leave the event, but rather that this was a safe space and that we as a newsroom, as a campus and as a society are not as knowledgeable as we should be about what these spaces mean.

It’s not just important, but it’s essential, for marginalized groups to have safe spaces on campus to engage with people who understand what they go through. Though this group is funded by Ryerson’s student union, it works to serve a particular group and a particular purpose. Many students at Ryerson have encountered racism in their life that is impossible to forget and many are exposed to discrimination on a daily basis. This group and these sort of events allow people of colour to lay bare their experiences and to collectively combat this societal ailment. These spaces are rare places in the world not controlled by individuals who have power, who have privilege.

These spaces, which are forums where minority groups are protected from mainstream stereotypes and marginalization, are crucial to resistance of oppression and we, as a school and as a society, need to respect them…

The two students who tried to enter the RSC meeting said that they were embarrassed when they were asked to leave and that the group was being counterproductive in sectioning themselves off. Similarly, some of the comments on the piece written about these students speaks to the idea that excluding certain people from these events, this dialogue, is encouraging racial tension. Their embarrassment isn’t as important as the other issues involved here.

Racialized-students-club-story-300x200-300x194
Not wanted: Trevor Hewitt and Julia Knope

Segregation was imposed on people of colour by people of privilege, not the other way around. The very fact that individuals organizing to help each other get through social barriers and injustices are being attacked and questioned for their peaceful assembly is proof that they were right to exclude those students…

The presence of any kind of privilege puts unnecessary pressure on the people of colour to defend any anger or frustrations they have, to fear the outcome of sharing their stories. The attendees are trying to move forward by supporting each other and they should not have to defend themselves, they should not fear the consequences of raising their voices…

The West has a history of oppressing people of colour: from Africans who were enslaved and brought to the New World, to native people whose land was stolen by Europeans. This kind of oppression is still witnessed today, in the way the black community is treated in the United States, in the state of African nations trying to recover from the collapse of the previous colonial rule, and in the continuing struggles of indigenous peoples.

White people may experience occasional and unacceptable prejudice, but not racism. They do not experience the systemic racism that makes it hard for them to find jobs, housing, health care and justice in the legal system.

Racism is not personal, it is structural. Unlike the arena of mainstream media, the educational system, religious institutions and judicial systems that reinforce hurtful stereotypes, these spaces remind the oppressed that they are human, that they deserve respect.

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Source: Huffington Post Canada

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3 Comments

  1. Heinemann
    March 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm — Reply

    After reading this it is not clear what the columnist, Mr. Ansari ( I assume it is male) complaint is. And if it is justifiable. Although he claims it is a just retribution for alleged ,white atrocities.

    First it is a reply in defense for the disassociation of white students from a group of the three above pictured “of colour”.

    He informs that the group is funded by the Ryerson University Student Union. One assumes this is for all students and not black? But they throw out the two white kids from their exclusive colloquy on their own authority.

    Obviously they did not anticipate opposition.

    Then begins the lamentations of the suffering they must “go through.” They claim to be “marginalized”and imply a need for therapy sequestering themselves to share their mutual preoccupation with their unique oppression of “social barriers” and prejudice. And lastly : the remonstration of racism.

    One could conclude they have no legitimate complaint. Should they not be glad to be in famous University for their field of study. And if Mr.Ansara (or Ms.) has a gainful employment is this not more than many have? Should they not be grateful?

    Well, gratitude is not an inherent quality such as “systemic racism”.

    In stead one can sympathize that they are not happy in an integrated community. For one I have not seen integration in USA or anywhere serve the best interests of anyone. Except those who conspired it.

  2. March 25, 2015 at 9:42 am — Reply

    If they really feel oppressed they should just leave our county, millions of these clowns come here legally and illegally every year and then they complain about “white privilege” all the while taking every handout they can get from “whitey”.

  3. Anonymous
    April 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm — Reply

    It was unclear to me whether the two white students were turned away because they were white or because they were journalists. If they had agreed not to write anything about this meeting, would they have been turned away simply for being white? Or, if they were black student journalists, would they have been allowed to stay? I believe this is something that the university should consider in funding this particular club in the future – if not ALL students are allowed to attend, then this club would be promoting a racist (in this case) standpoint. That should not be acceptable for any club on any university campus. Gender, race, sex, sexual orientation, and belief systems should not be held as a means of turning any person away from any group on a college campus.

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