The AC Voice Problem: Activist Olympics and Silent Discourse
Issue   |   Wed, 03/12/2014 - 02:35

AC Voice is the student publication that students love to hate. Depending on who you mention the publication to, you may get everything from encouraging compliments to unenthusiastic sighs and murmurs. Generally, however, campus enthusiasm is low about the publication. Case in point the events of last week. On March 4, AC Voice writer Gina Faldetta ’16, posted an article to the independent publication aptly titled “Amherst College’s Bathroom Problem.” In the article, Faldetta makes a fairly reasonable observation about the gender-bias present in the bathrooms of older buildings on campus. Merrill, Chapin, Frost and Converse have 52 places for men to use, while females have only 22. In response she proposes gender-neutral bathrooms. As many students saw from their Facebook newsfeeds, AC Voice has had tremendous negative feedback in the comments section. As of now, there are 91 mostly damaging and anonymous comments on Faldetta’s article. A few individuals chose to publicize their identities, while many others chose to remain hidden. Some of these individuals included the student body President, George Tepe ’14 and many of the other writers of the publication, who had very little to lose socially for posting their opinions in the comments section. In my opinion, the phenomenon of anonymity is where AC Voice as an “activist” institution finds itself into problems.

In my opinion, AC Voice is not a publication that necessarily promotes meaningful discourse, as its proponents would describe. It is an publication that masquerades under the label of promoting conversation while only perpetuating anonymity through a fear of social backlash. The site does so through the monopolization of a variety of social justice jargon and through the policing of individuals that do not conform to their predetermined definitions. Through this strict monopolization of social justice jargon and their enforcement of this jargon through the “checking of privilege,” the unintended consequence becomes a discourse of silence in the Amherst College community. This silent discourse manifests itself through the anonymity of individuals that do not conform to AC Voice self-defined language of activism. We see it through the language of Liya Rechtman ’14 as she attempts to school the Black Students Union (BSU) on how to be activist about hate-speech (think Oppressive Olympics), Faldetta, as she compares the importance of bathroom gender equality to Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement, and Craig Campbell ’15, as he defines (seemingly using the dictionary of his choice, or in his words “basic dictionary definitions”) what activism, advocacy and agitation are. Frankly, the “one, multivocal Amherst College Voice” that individuals like Campbell and Rechtman purport is a farce. AC Voice has almost transformed “activism” on the campus to a homogenized pulp dominated, unfortunately, by writers such as Rechtman, Faldetta and Campbell. These self-contained definitions of activism, racism, sexism, etc. have obscured many of these writers from recognizing their own privilege. In other words, the “Activist-Olympics” is real and at Amherst College AC Voice has won because of their domination of key social justice jargon.

My problem with AC Voice started with an article that I penned on behalf of the BSU in response to hate speech on campus last semester. Rather than criticize the act of hate speech and the pervasive campus apathy that was present about N-word scrawls outside dorms, Rechtman wrote a tremendously insensitive critique of the language present in the article and not the actual act of hate speech (merely reinforcing some of my above opinions on AC Voice). When I, under the name “Anon,” called out Liya’s insensitivity and privilege I got this response.

I spent a great deal of time and energy trying to edit and bolster your prose so that when the campus read the important things you had to say they would really hear and pay attention to your critique of Amherst as a frequently racist and silencing community. My only major criticism of your argument, as you know by now, was that I hoped you would include some actionable next step or at least target a specific area so that readers could come from you article having a sense of where to direct their anger.

Here Rechtman justifies the police-style monitoring of the words and actions of the BSU, another activist organization on campus. Why, without her explicit direction, could the BSU not express their feelings towards the campus and administration? Here language, both in this response and in the original AC Voice article, was incredibly offensive, silencing and patronizing — almost reflecting a strand of paternalism that insinuates that the organizations response was invalid and that only she knew best. Just to note, in her response to the BSU’s Op-Ed critiquing hate speech, Rechtman superimposes her definition of the organization without doing any prior research on the organization at Amherst College — or even going to a single meeting. In my opinion, the most troubling quote from her article was “Lindsay’s letter plunged us back into the ‘oppression Olympics’” and a self-victimizing rhetoric that I have in the past argued would only lead us to cross-cultural miscommunication, community fatigue and oppressive stasis.” The “Oppression-Olympics” that Rechtman identifies, for those who don’t know, is when people from various groups attempt to win the day by stating that their particular type of oppression is more damaging than another group’s.

There appears to be a growing trend in institutions where the expression of social justice jargon is the norm, a term called the “Activist-Olympics.” In the white social justice “activist” community there seems to be tremendous competition to prove who the most “activist” is. This generally equates to who is the most politically correct, the person who has “checked their the privilege” the most regularly and the individual who has the loudest voice in declaring their (insert privilege here). Womanist Musings writer Renee Martin states it more aptly.

It seems like there are dozens of responses from white people about what the person did wrong, how offended POC should be by this particular person or brand of activism, and how the activist is ‘showing their privilege.’ And when the “white anti-racists” are done with their critiques of the person who performed the activist work in question, they retreat into their corners, read a book, write a blog and do nothing to promote justice in any concrete way.

AC Voice because of their monopolization of social justice jargon is essentially immune from constructive criticism. In one of my criticisms of Faldetta’s article, again under the title “Anon” I highlight some of the problems that I had with Faldetta (and Rechtman in a past article tilted “Desegregate”) comparing the issues that they raised to the civil rights movement and Jim Crow. One of my criticisms stemmed from this comment that Faldetta made in defense of her article.

NOT to appropriate the racial oppression historically and currently experienced by black Americans, but there is a very similar line of logic that one can draw here. It’s easy, from a position of privilege, to view such an issue as bathrooms on campus as trivial, but I’d like to think that commenters here would not also say that ‘the extra twenty steps and extra thirty seconds’ it takes to get to the back of the bus is not a big deal and should not be complained about.

Rechtman, in support of Faldetta’s comparison of bathroom inequality at Amherst to a period in history where African-Americans were killed because of their skin color responding in another section in the comments says:

Just because two things are not similar in all ways does not mean that there is no similarity between them. Let me give you a non-political example of this: if I were to say that lava and water were alike in that they were both liquid, and fluid, would not mean that I think lava is as harmless as lava or that lava is easy to drink, like water.

Problematic logic like Faldetta’s and Rechtman’s is left unchecked because of the monopolization of social justice jargon that they maintain in the Amherst College community, and if this monopolization of jargon is challenged, one gets repressed, such as what happened with the Black Student Union last semester.

Faldetta’s article last semester titled, “’Cold’ is a Relative Term” is perhaps a better representation of what AC Voice functionally represents to many at Amherst College, as opposed to the multifocal voice that the site purports. Faldetta begins, “If your activism makes your oppressor feel comfortable than maybe you should reevaluate your activism.” In the second paragraph she calls out a guest writer for equating his feelings of being left out in the cold for not having anyone educate him about cultural appropriation to the “historical and systematic oppression suffered by two Jamaican women …allow[ing] him to criticize these women for lashing out at him without having to actually acknowledge that he comes from a place of privilege.” This line is in direct contrast to the quote I laid out earlier where she compares the Amherst bathroom problem to the historical oppression of African-Americans. However, this is not the crux of the issue. She continues:

I’ve thought about based on countless interactions with people at Amherst, is of silencing the voice and expression of the oppressed simply because they might hurt someone’s feelings. This lack of distinction between being unpleasant and perpetuating an oppressive social dynamic is essentially privilege denial, and is extremely detrimental to the creation of a community of social equality[…] So, the question remains: do individuals attempting to enact social change and overthrow social systems that oppress them have to do so by communicating nicely to people who are subjugating them? My answer, right now, is no. I understand that it is most effective to communicate in a collaborative manner when trying to explain social issues to people who could use some enlightenment, but under a circumstance in which someone is directly perpetuating your oppression, it is well within your right to approach them with whatever tone you see fit.

When taken to the degree that we see from many of the its writers, the contents of this article are a metaphor for the type of discourse that AC Voice perpetuates on this campus. The publication (at least in the case of the more prominent authors) promotes a discourse of silence predicated by not only by the off-hand, often satirical and anonymous responses from critics (such as myself), but the cowardly and silent challenges to AC Voice’s control of “activist” language in and out of classroom. People at Amherst College are scared of publicized dissent because of the “’Cold’ is a Relative Term” mentality from many individuals like Faldetta and Rechtman.

When professors and students observe offensive language in classroom, many don’t respond because of this silent discourse. These problems spill out of the classroom into “Politically Correct” everyday life with ones peers on and off campus. This defeats the purpose of the liberal arts education that we are encouraged to partake in while being here. The only way Amherst College can move forward into more tangible equality and dialogue is to have more meaningful conversations, and this can only happen if institutions like AC Voice stop monopolizing social justice terminology, accept meaningful criticism and become more introspective. We need to encourage more dialogue, however offensive it may appear to be on the surface. If we don’t see these microaggressions how can we combat them if people are too reluctant to express their opinions? The discourse of silence has to stop, only then can Amherst College move forward.

Anchor
Comments
Ummm (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 09:58

So idk how you read the comments but Liya isn't white, she's jewish - just to clarify. Gina isn't white either... I think theres a second policing issue here: of you and other BSU activists taking race and nonwhite status and policing who is allowed to talk about racial issues and who is allowed to identify as what.

Also, im pretty sure you know this because I think you signed the letter (I did too), but Liya has been ontop of her game making sure that there is more diversity education during orientation and going head to head with the provost about it. Theyve changed the orientation plans now, but she spent a couple weeks organizing around ensuring that diversity education and inclusion was a high priority for campus.

Do your research, Andrew.

We Know Who You... (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:49

Liya/Gina (if there is a difference at this point), stop. We know it's you.

Liya Rechtman (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:29

I did not actually write the above comment and I don't think Gina did either. I have been thinking and talking a lot about Judaism, passing privilege, and erasure in the past couple of weeks a lot and I think so have other people on campus.

Also, if you've ever spoken to Gina or me or read our articles you would know that we are radically different people with divergent opinions.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 19:11

Liya has passing white privilege. She may not identify as white but she, like many Jewish people in the United States, has a lot of the same privileges that people with more or less European ancestry have. You should read Gina Faldetta's article on the ACVoice, "How's Your Racial Identity Crisis Going?". It's a great introduction on some of the dynamics at work with privilege and whiteness in the US. Gina also has passing white privilege, she even acknowledged that herself. But she's also Korean as well. There are a lot of nuances with definitions of white and whiteness that I don't have a grasp on. And, you have a point - maybe individuals who use the word white, should have more open minded about the issue. Race and perceptions aren't static, maybe we should be more flexible when we use words. That's the point of the article, I want a conversation, not a debate. I want an Amherst discourse in which there is no winner or loser. There are no olympics here. I am writing openly and honestly about a lot of the issues that I have with the ACVoice, and if you have meaningful criticisms shoot. The ACVoice in my opinion creates a culture of silence on this campus where people are literally afraid of writing named comments because of the fear of backlash. The point of the article was to identify how this is done, using the very language of the more prominent writers (the faces/representatives) of the publication. This language points to many contradictions in the maxims that these writers use to justify their language.

Also, I am not writing on behalf of the BSU. I am writing on behalf of Andrew Lindsay. I don't identify as an "activist", I identify as someone who has a lot of problems with what the ACVoice has become on this campus. When I see many of the writers shut people down in the comments, and the anonymity (silence/cowardice) it produces (look at the comments below), I get very pessimistic about the discourse on this campus. I get that Liya does a lot on this campus, but the point isn't for people to interpret my critiques as personal attacks but to view them as the thread that supports for my overall observation that the ACVoice, contrary to what many of its advocates believe, hurts as much as they help, by belittling people's opinions when they don't subscribe to theirs. Using the dominant writers' very words and logic on their own terms, I attempted to make a coherent argument that supported my opinion. There is no conspiracy or ax to grind - I'm just a concerned student. There are a couple of writers on the ACVoice that go to BSU meetings as well, I have even written an article on the site as a guest. The BSU is an activist organization, the group doesn't speak on behalf of all black people, just as I don't speak on behalf of the BSU when I support this article.

Finally, there are a lot of really great writers on the ACVoice that I admire. Raskin, Fadulu, Randolph, Vilorio and Dominguez are phenomenal and many of their articles don't get a lot of the respect that they deserve from the student body. I target the faces of the organization - the individuals who in my opinion dominate the ACVoice's rhetoric.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 17:32

"Finally, there are a lot of really great writers on the ACVoice that I admire. Raskin, Fadulu, Randolph, Vilorio and Dominguez are phenomenal and many of their articles don't get a lot of the respect that they deserve from the student body. "
.
Then why the hell did you write an article heavily criticizing ACVoice without even mentioning them once? You want them to get positive attention from the student body that they deserve? Then why are you writing at length about why ACVoice sucks without so much as hyperlinking one of these supposedly "phenomenal" articles?
.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 19:50

The point isn't that Liya "isn't white" according to you. The point is that she isn't Black. I'm not sure you read this letter, or Liya's article in the first place. The issue is (extremely simplified, for clarity) that Liya decided to speak for the BSU and criticize their speech, as opposed to criticizing the actual problem at hand---the hate crimes, and racial apathy on this campus.

In case you missed that, I'm going to repeat that. The problem is that she wrote an entire letter criticizing the BSU's response, and not the hate crime and apathetic behavior of the campus in the general. WHY?

"Nonwhite" (whatever that means??) status does not give you the right to speak about every issue affecting people who aren't White. I'm Black, but I'm certainly not going to go criticize any Asian affinity groups on how they react to targeted hate crimes. It's not my place. I don't know the history behind that.

There is no "second policing issue" here. Stop trying to deflect the conversation from the very valid points Andrew is making. Also, Liya does an excellent job of promoting diversity. No one is trying to make her a villain here, but you do realize that one act of inclusion does not cancel out a gross misrepresentation and overstepping of boundaries on her behalf.

Leah (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 18:04

Alright, Liya, we know this is you.

Liya Rechtman (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 21:33

This is now my third comment on the article and they are all with my name. Putting aside all the intrusive, anti-semitic, oppressive, policing and uninformed things that are going on on this forum, I'm not sure why of them has been that anyone supporting me *is* me... It is possible that not everyone agrees with Andrew Lindsay and that some of those people, as one commenter said below, don't feel comfortable using their names.

Alum '11 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 10:16

Thank you for saying what I bet a significant portion of the Amherst College student and alumni community has been thinking.

RF (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:43

Andrew Lindsay is also bitter as fuck.

"AC Voice monopolizes social justice jargon" and not one concrete example of how that is done.

Dude. No one wants to read this garbage.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 18:02

say it to his face.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:00

See Craig Campbell's response below. But in my opinion (and apparently Craig's), the ACVoice monopolizes social justice jargon.

Also, all of the articles/comments that I cite corroborate, in one way or another, the shared opinion that Craig and I apparently have. So I guess I'll list them out.

In "Action: A Response To BSU", Rechtman literally defines the Amherst College Black Student Union. Rechtman states, "The Black Student Union at Amherst College is explicitly an affinity group for students of African descent and not an activist organization. As an affinity group that collectively felt targeted by a series of hate crimes on campus, Lindsay and other BSU members documented their communal anger. By publishing their letter in The Student, BSU took action. The letter was not intended as an “activist” action and yet, presumably, the BSU desired to alleviate some of the pain (suffering, social discomfort, and the silencing effect of “containment,” as Lindsay cited) by publishing it." Those definitions are all wrong. The BSU is an affinity group that is not exclusive, and is intended to cater to a wide amount of individuals, of all creeds and culture pertaining to Africa and the diaspora. The group is also an activist organization in its own right (read the Student archives). By the phrasing of the word and the context of the sentence Liya implicitly defines what activism is, and because the group didn't fit her definition she shut down the collective opinion of the group.

2) In Craig Campbell's recent article, "Exploding the Circle Jerk: After Advocacy". Campbell addresses some of the issues that I raised in this opinion. He starts "The tone of recent feedback has suggested that, in order to best serve the student body, we should reconsider the position we occupy within the community. To address this, I think it’s helpful to first specify the difference between agitation, activism, and advocacy. According to basic dictionary definitions (that more scholarly work corroborates), an agitator is defined as 'one who stirs up public feeling on controversial issues.' An activist is 'one who uses vigorous campaigning to bring about social or political change,' while an advocate is 'one who supports or promotes the interests of another." The scholarly work that he cites and corroborates with the Merriam dictionary is very limiting and exclusionary. By having set definitions - regardless of the scholarly work that we cite, we leave out people who have contrary opinions of these terms. I think you should read Matt Randolph's article on the ACVoice, "Defining Queer Activism at Amherst College". He speaks out on definitions of queer activism at Amherst College and how he's had to manage doubts of his, and Pride's queer activism. "Of course, it could mean national political engagement and advocacy. It could also simply mean working toward change, visibility, support and administrative accountability at the institutional level of a college campus. I think these two realms of activism are equally important and mutually dependent. There is no hierarchy." When people on the ACVoice like Rechtman and Campbell, define terms - enforce their definitions through shallow critique (see Action: A Response to the BSU above) people get offended, hurt and scared to express their opinion through fear or embarrassment. That's not how it should be.

3) In "'Cold' is a Relative Term", Faldetta checks an ACVoice guest writer on his privilege. The writer said that he was left out in the cold when he dress up as Riff Raff and got his privilege checked, quite aggressively. Essentially he wouldn't have minded getting some education about why he was wrong to dress the way he did instead of getting relentlessly shat on for being ignorant. Faldetta starts with a quote that intrigued her, “If your activism makes your oppressor feel comfortable than maybe you should reevaluate your activism.” and explains that "I understand that it is most effective to communicate in a collaborative manner when trying to explain social issues to people who could use some enlightenment, but under a circumstance in which someone is directly perpetuating your oppression, it is well within your right to approach them with whatever tone you see fit." This was her opinion as to how individuals should approach dissent. This was a definition in my opinion and I disagree with it - because when we take it to the nth degree we have people afraid of speaking up for themselves - like many of the individuals that are anonymous right now.

Liya Rechtman (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 22:29

So just to clarify, I got that definition of BSU from the Amherst College BSU webpage, I didn't make it up: https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/studentgroups/black_student_union

"BSU serves as a support system for students of African descent and we work to raise awareness on campus about issues affecting the Black community around the world."

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 22:47

You're right. That's what that webpage says. Thank you for that clarification. One that same page there's a link to the mission statement: https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/studentgroups/black_student_union/mis.... That has a more detailed statement of the BSU that says: "The Black Student Union serves as a resource mechanism to foster the social, political, cultural and intellectual development of Black students at Amherst College. Furthermore, the BSU seeks to engage all students that are dedicated to the above stated mission." That's there as well. But I am confused as to how that all conflated to: "The Black Student Union at Amherst College is explicitly an affinity group for students of African descent and not an activist organization." The "explicitly" invokes the feeling that your definition was absolute and it wasn't. The BSU has a long history of activism on campus. From cross burnings and val sit-ins to chaining themselves to doors in Converse Hall in protest. Times have changed of course but the group remains activist. I'm also confused as to why you couldn't have just asked someone on the BSU E-Board to corroborate your "definition" as opposed to using a 1 sentence description on a webpage that hasn't been updated since 2009.

Liya Rechtman (not verified) says:
Sun, 03/16/2014 - 10:54

Hi Andrew, as I recently said on your facebook page and in person to you with no response, I would really like the opportunity to sit down and discuss what you're thinking about etc. I think a lot is getting lost in internet communication.

For example, I used a definition that you didn't like but that in my mind seems reasonable (and explicit) because I found it on the BSU webpage. The same way you didn't come to me and ask me if the comments you quoted in this article were the full story or what I really meant, I didn't approach BSU leadership before publishing what I found on the website.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:02

It must feel good to make a sweeping statement about another person, while hiding behind anonymity.

Tell me, did you even read the article to which Andrew is referencing? That is your example. Do you want more?

an amherst student (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:50

"It is an (sic) publication that masquerades under the label of promoting conversation while only perpetuating anonymity through a fear of social backlash."

Kind of like THIS website, the one you used to publish your own thoughts. Case in point, my anonymous comment. Did you even think before you wrote this?

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:09

There is an inherent contradiction in the form of the argument that I delivered. You are right. But that contradiction is deliberate. This critique could have been written in a far less combative way but I chose to write in this form, using in many cases the very words of these writers to contradict themselves, to make a point about how these writers deliver, specify, define and call out. Instead of watching them call out people that they disagree with, I am choosing to call them out using their own content to reveal some of my problems with the publication. The only difference is that I won't be as combative to dissent and commentary. I encourage you all to look at not only the content but the form of this critique as a whole.

Anon (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 13:15

so jewish people can't be white? I have no idea what you are talking about

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:26

When you callously group Jews as simply being other white people and imply that Jewish people are no different than anyone else of European decent your are erasing a long history of oppression and violence that includes but is certainly not limited to the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Remind me again how that means Jews are the same as British Imperialists.

Jews are a nomadic tribe who for most of history have had no nation to call home. How dare you erase the history of devastation and triumph, tradition and culture that characterizes the Jews by writing someone off as just another white girl.

Someone might experience some serious privileges for looking white in America, but that doesn't magically erase their people's history or culture.

Same goes for Gina. She literally wrote about being mixed-race like two weeks ago. You are policing people. Shame on you man. You are part of the problem.

yikes (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:00

This is embarrassing, for you, "Anonymous".

I feel like you are literally seconds away from screaming "reverse racism". Liya was referred to as white. You disagree, okay.

But that's not even the point. The point is her policing another activist group's speech (she as much said so herself, because she didn't feel it was actionable enough), and ignoring the actual problem. Liya does not get a pass for this, just because you don't consider her white.

Why does no one on this campus care about the actual problem? People were writing NIGGER on our buildings, and no one cares. Everyone is here arguing about the rhetoric. Like, why don't we just go ahead and say it? Amherst pretends to be diverse, but we are only as diverse as each individual wants to be. It's pretty easy on this campus to only hang around people who look like yourself.

Judd Liebman (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 00:05

"Reverse racism" when referring to oppression against Jews is not the pathological "reverse racism" you refer to. It is antisemitism. Your comments about Judaism as a race are also antisemitic. These misconceptions of Judaism -- a religion -- led to the violent oppression of Jews (namely the extermination of 6 million) by the Nazis in the 20th Century.

Oppression does not occupy only one space. Races are oppressed. Religions are oppressed. Sexual identities are oppressed. Genders are oppressed. Just because one group is oppressed and someone who has not experienced that specific oppression comments does not mean that the person has not experienced any form of oppression and cannot contribute productively.

Liya is not racist. When she comments on oppression of racial minorities, she does not become racist solely because she appears white. She has experienced other forms of oppression and has written extensively about it (check those pieces out). The forms of oppression she has experienced are similar to the aggressive nature of race relations on this campus. She was merely attempting to make the effect of Mr. Lindsay's original letter more productive and poignant. She was not policing the language or monopolizing social justice jargon (whatever that means..?) she was attempting to make an argument for equality stronger. That needs to be understood.

Alum '11 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 01:51

"Liya is not racist. When she comments on oppression of racial minorities, she does not become racist solely because she appears white. She has experienced other forms of oppression and has written extensively about it (check those pieces out)."
A) I don't think anyone on here would go so far as to say Liya is a racist - that's just silly. But Andrew's points about how she goes about talking about these issues is still valid.
B) I respect your definition as long as a "white man" would be able to speak in the same way about issues of "oppression" if they felt they had experienced it in their life. All I ask for is no hypocrisy. Unfortunately, Amherst College campus is full of it.

Disgusted '14 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 09:41

Why are you still here arguing about Jewish identity?

This is not about Jewish identity. I find it interesting that you are writing paragraphs about the history of Jewish oppression. Literally no one said anything about Jewish people not being oppressed. You are apparently hell bent on deflecting from the actual point here. In case you needed an example, here is a prime example of the racial apathy on this campus. How did we get from criticizing an offensive article about the BSU, to how Jewish people are persecuted, and Liya simply can't be racist because she's "Jewish" or "not white". Once again, this is not about Jewish oppression. Sorry, but that's just not relevant in this context.

This is, once again, about 3 things.

1.) Liya's article that made offensive racial analogies, and then very clearly told the BSU that she didn't feel their response was good enough. This was after they posted their article on another website. Liya can identify as white or not, but she certainly can't identify as Black, or an active member of the BSU.

2.) Liya's article as an indication of a growing trend over at AC Voice. That trend being monopolizing social justice jargon. You say you do not understand what that means. Let me explain it like you're five. It means that every time something happens, (we feel, that) AC Voice feels like they need to make a comment whether or not it applies to them. Our criticism is that AC Voice is consistently jumping down the throats of everyone who dares consider themselves an activist. AC Voice (or rather, some writers in particular) use inappropriate analogies to bolster their own crappy agendas. You do not get to co-opt another culture/race/ethnicity's struggle to make a point.

This: "she was attempting to make an argument for equality stronger", IS NOT OKAY. Why don't people understand that? Why did she feel that the BSU wasn't capable of doing that themselves?

3.) The straight up racial apathy on this campus. I continue to say this, but I guess it's falling on deaf ears. We have moved so far away from the actual point, and that is disturbing to me. People criticize what they feel are offensive racial analogies, and we are told to shut up, stop calling people out, "She's oppressed too!", etc. That's not the point.

The point is that there have been several anti-Black hate crimes on this campus, coupled with a myriad of other microaggressions on this campus, and apparently, we're not even allowed to talk about them. Because if we do talk about them, we are met with hate, deflection, etc. I think we should ask ourselves why minority students (Black students in particular in this case) can't make honest criticisms of a (PUBLIC) publication without all this.

Like seriously, respond back to my comment. I want a response to everything I have mentioned above. I want a response to why you are still here talking about reverse racism. I want a response to why you don't care to discuss the offensive analogy in question. I want to know why you feel it was Liya's place to "make an argument for equality stronger". I want to know your thoughts on the Anti-Black hate crimes that go relatively unnoticed by the student body.

That's four questions/responses that I would like direct answers to. I'll wait here.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 14:09

Hey Disgusted '14:

I wanted to answer some of your questions.

I commented about Jewish identity because the first comment made on this article is about Jewish identity and many subsequent comments automatically equate Judaism with race (namely white) which is anti-semitic. First off, please stop calling anti-semitism reverse racism.

So that is why I am talking about anti-semitism (I didn't bring it up). The discussion of anti-semitism and other oppressed groups is not here to make the problem identified any less potent. That activity is meant to draw analogies which help people understand oppression on their own terms. And, I believe Mr. Lindsay does the same thing here:

"Not to appropriate the racial oppression historically and currently experienced by black Americans, but there is a very similar line of logic that one can draw here. It’s easy, from a position of privilege, to view such an issue as bathrooms on campus as trivial, but I’d like to think that commenters here would not also say that ‘the extra twenty steps and extra thirty seconds’ it takes to get to the back of the bus is not a big deal and should not be complained about."

The racial epithets and hate crimes that have occurred on this campus are atrocious. I really hope that you don't take my comments as justifying the oppression and hatred that has been rampant on this campus. Is it appropriate to draw parallels between the civil rights struggle and the struggle for gender equity? I think so. Maybe this particular analogy went too far.

You wanted to "know why you feel it was Liya's place to 'make an argument for equality stronger.'" As an editor of AC Voice, Liya had a duty to edit the prose and argument of the content that appeared on her website. That is what an editor does. Her actions were not a comment on the BSU's ability to create clear arguments. Editors edit. That is what they do. It is not personal, it is not racist, it is not oppressive. Editors have a duty to make arguments stronger. I don't think her edits had any racist intentions.

Also, thank you for explaining what social justice jargon means "like I am a five year old." That's not patronizing at all... Come on. Let's try to stay civil, especially when we are all working for the similar causes. Please do not accuse me of co-opting another race's struggle to make a point. Also do not accuse me of offenses you believe AC Voice committed. I am not on that staff.

I hope this helps. And if not, feel free to email me and we can sit down to come to a better understanding.

Disgusted '14 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 19:54

Thank you for making the distinction between "pathological Reverse racism" and actual antisemitism. This was helpful, and I will keep this in mind. I understand now that it is not appropriate to compare the two as if they are born of the same intent and history. I will admit that I am still a bit fuzzy on (possible) intersections of the two.

I have nothing else to add, as I've said everything I wanted to say in my original comment. But I did want to return to make you aware that I hear you, and hope not to make that incorrect assumption again.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:12

See my comment about passing white privilege.

Concerned Citizen (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 13:37

I thought this article was great. Keep it up.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:06

Hi everyone! It would be great if you could comment on the article publicly if you can. I really want people to feel comfortable stating criticism publicly, anoniminity can only get us so far. One of the reasons I wrote this article was to encourage people to speak up so we can tackle this culture of silence on campus that hinders free speech. We go to a liberal arts school, if some of us are afraid to speak up we won't get anywhere.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:14

Just looked at your comments on the ACVoice article. The only thing that is clear here is your personal beef - however well founded - with Miss Rectman. Seems like you want to frame your personal frustrations and problems with another student in a broader context of ACVoice being a terrible publication in order to offer yourself credibility in what is obviously a set of personal attacks about your article. It is all clear from your lack of concrete examples, largely incoherent logic, and refusal to acknowledge the fact that the site has like twenty writers.

Rectman hurt your feelings and you disagree with her on important issues. Be an adult and go work it out with her. Don't shit on everyone and make this bigger than it actually is.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:37

I don't interpret my criticisms as ad hominem. I attempted to steer clear of character or personal attributes as a way to bolster my argument. Everything I called out was something that was written by the members of the ACVoice through articles or comments. Well before this criticism I had many problems with the ACVoice. The first comment I made on that article was a reply to someone that said that they were offended by some of the opinions that were written by some of the authors with privilege on the ACVoice. I concurred and stated that the reason was because of a lack of introspection from these writers with privilege because they were being obscured by their own privilege. The same logic can be applied to the social justice paternalism and imperialism (that I mentioned in the above article). The other comment in response to Rechtman citing an article called Desegregate is where I got the monopolization of definitions argument from. The opinion didn't just come from nowhere and isn't just a rationalization for shitting on the ACVoice. The origin of the logic is all there, in my comments. There's no conspiracy.

For concrete examples, see my responses above.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:28

you quoted Liya telling you that she edited and bolstered your prose but framed it as "policing" which just sounds bitter in response to someone (accurately) remarking that your argumentation is nearly incoherent

Clarification (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 14:59

Whether or not one is white does not dictate whether that said person is blind of the privilege they are perpetuating by manipulating the experiences of the oppressed for their own golden badge and pat on the back. "Oh look at me, I social justice better than you do." Part of moving forward with social justice issues and making sure the agenda gets any where near a step closer to being achieved is a grain of humility. Acknowledging that you made an offensive analogy that watered down loaded experiences to lava and water is wrong. Accept it, grow as a person, move on and if that's not what you meant be more explicit next time. How are we supposed to see the faults in the system if we do not accept our own faults?

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 15:42

You are absolutely correct and that is the tone that I want to see from the faces of the ACVoice that I called out. If as a writer you believe that my article contributes to a meaningful critique then accept the critique and move on. Are there things wrong with my article? Yes. Could it have been written better? Yes. Could there have been less typos? Absolutely! But when people are wrong accept it, move on and don't be defensive. There are a couple times in the comments section in this article where I have conceded. The ACVoice is absolutely not a monolith. I should have pointed that out. I realized my mistake and have tried to resolve that through highlighting some of the amazing writers in that publication in response to this article. White and whiteness as concepts are contentious. Do I believe that Liya and Gina have passing white privilege? I do, but I could have done a better job illustrating that this as not JUST an "anti-racist white" issue? Yes.
When people react defensively to things that they were wrong in saying, it's because of a bruised ego. No one likes being called out for doing something wrong - I get that. But if we can divorce our egos from our logic, and use criticism in a constructive way rather than destructively then maybe we can have more meaningful free speech on this campus and less people scared to say things that are contrary to the norm.

Craig Campbell '15 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 15:34

Hi Andrew. Could you clarify why you found the 'dictionary definitions' in my article problematic? I did use the 'dictionary of [my] choice'--the Merriam-Webster--to look up these words. In the same sentence by which you quoted me, I also link to an article that provides a more comprehensive bibliography for those terms than I could offer in the space I had--did you not notice that citation, or did you find those scholarly definitions problematic as well?

My intention with my article was to do exactly what you suggest: for AC Voice to introspect. I identified this goal in the first few lines. Do you think that my article failed to do this? It's my impression that we're actually arguing for similar things. The 'monopolization of social justice jargon,' to me, sounds similar to the 'circle-jerk of advocates,' which I concede that AC Voice contributes to. The "one, multivocal Amherst College Voice" that we describe on our 'About' page, which you identify as something that I 'purport,' is a quote that I explicitly point out as a possible misrepresentation of the reality of the student body.

So I guess I feel like I preempted most of your arguments against me, and I'm eager to hear your justification for calling me out here.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:52

Hi Craig, I wrote a response to a previous commenter with my explanation. Hopefully it's satisfying. Apologies for the third person. And yes, I read the Advocacy vs. Activism link that you sited in your article. I thought that the terms it attempted to "define" weren't satisfactory because in my opinion they contributed to this strange activism hierarchy (circle jerk, activism olympics) thing that I'm trying to shed light on. There is no right answer and that link in my opinion implied that.
"In Craig Campbell's recent article, "Exploding the Circle Jerk: After Advocacy". Campbell addresses some of the issues that I raised in this opinion. He starts "The tone of recent feedback has suggested that, in order to best serve the student body, we should reconsider the position we occupy within the community. To address this, I think it’s helpful to first specify the difference between agitation, activism, and advocacy. According to basic dictionary definitions (that more scholarly work corroborates), an agitator is defined as 'one who stirs up public feeling on controversial issues.' An activist is 'one who uses vigorous campaigning to bring about social or political change,' while an advocate is 'one who supports or promotes the interests of another." The scholarly work that he cites and corroborates with the Merriam dictionary is very limiting and exclusionary. By having set definitions - regardless of the scholarly work that we cite, we leave out people who have contrary opinions of these terms. I think you should read Matt Randolph's article on the ACVoice, "Defining Queer Activism at Amherst College". He speaks out on definitions of queer activism at Amherst College and how he's had to manage doubts of his, and Pride's queer activism. "Of course, it could mean national political engagement and advocacy. It could also simply mean working toward change, visibility, support and administrative accountability at the institutional level of a college campus. I think these two realms of activism are equally important and mutually dependent. There is no hierarchy." When people on the ACVoice like Rechtman and Campbell, define terms - enforce their definitions through shallow critique (see Action: A Response to the BSU above) people get offended, hurt and scared to express their opinion through fear or embarrassment. That's not how it should be"

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:07

People are scared to use their names because they are worried about being personally called out in public...like on an online periodical...in an article that identifies them by name and class year...and makes them the sole focus of a broader problem...and accuses them of being misguided at best and racist at worst...and will appear under a google search of their name You're taking a huge dump on your peers and then asking why others aren't lining up for more. As long as people continue to attack students and not ideas this conversation will go nowhere.

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 16:45

The intention of my article was to use precisely the same form made in "Action: A Response to the BSU" http://acvoice.com/2013/10/04/action-a-response-to-bsu/ and "'Cold' is a Relative Term" http://acvoice.com/2013/11/18/cold-is-a-relative-term/ to level a critique against the ACVoice as a publication, using the very words and logic of the more dominant writers. I was very nit-picky and that was deliberate. The point of the article was to encourage more substantive discourse on campus by making a case against the writers on the ACVoice that nit-pick and shame, using the same nit-picking and broad based shaming that was employed in these articles and in the comments. They can afford to nit-pick and make criticisms because they have the privilege to concretize definitions and enforce these definitions through the public shaming. I want there to be less of that on the ACVoice's end. I was anonymous in the comments to Gina's bathroom inequality article not because I was on some secret undercover mission but because I got crapped on by Liya Rechtman in the ACVoice before and was scared to say anything. I also got called out by Rechtman as an anonymous commenter on Gina's article. When I went about writing this article I went with the mindset of I don't ever wan't this to happen again to anyone. Why should people other than these ACVoice writers (and a few other people who are just just courageous I guess) be scared to speak up. In my opinion and based on my personal experience, people are scared to critique the ACVoice's logic because of the way writers crap on people that don't adhere to their logic. I want less of that on this campus so my contribution was to critique these dominant writers using their logic. But you are right. There is a contradiction in that logic which may encourage these individuals to also be silent. I don't want that to happen. But I want them to certainly be more introspective before they make broad generalizations especially if they put themselves in the position to "check privilege" and promote social justice. The article does not accuse these individuals of racism but of being unaware of their own privilege. Jim Crow and bathroom inequality at Amherst share separation in common, but not all separation is the segregation in Jim Crow. The fact that this comparison was even made in the first place and later defended was absolutely ridiculous and just spelled oppression olympics. In response to the dump on my peers thing, I attempted to stay clear of ad hominem attacks (see comment above).

niahlah (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 18:09

Jews are white phenotypically, just as you said... Jews - are "other white people" "of European decent". Just as Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, etc. are all classified as Asian. And, Hatians, Jamaicans, and even darker skinned Dominicans are seen as Black. Jews, by this standard, are white. So, from this, I take away that you are mad because you are white. #opressionOlympics

Jews and Race (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 00:08

have you ever heard of an Ethiopian/Mizrachi or Sephardic Jews? Just because most of the Jews you know look white to you doesn't mean they are white and doesn't mean all Jews are white.

Also, the above genetic logic IS Nazi logic.

niahlah (not verified) says:
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 13:34

I have. I know Black jews and white Jews. Middle Eastern Jews and Hispanic jews. But, in this person's case, if she were to walk into a room of strangers, she would be treated as white because that's what she looks like. It isn't just my view, but the common perception of Americans and their constant need to categorize people. Regardless of religion and heritage, in America if you look Black, you are treated as Black, if you look white, you are treated as such. If you look Middle Eastern, people may think you are a terrorist, as most of these people were around 9/11. This doesn't go for every individual american in this country, but these stereotypes have been perpetuated by society, and subconsciously affect how people act.

Saddened Alum (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 21:23

For the love of God, all of you, just stop it. Seriously. Stop it.

Look, clearly all of you agree more on less on general issues of justice, that society shouldn't be shitty to each other, etc. And there's a whole gigantic host of ways right now that society sucks, and that the 'herst (while it fucking rules) sucks. And you should fix them. But guess what? Instead you're running around whining at the people who probably agree with you MOST for "policing" this and "othering" that and being "PROBLEMATIC AND NOT OKAY" and the very very worst sin of them all--carrying an unchecked privilege. You're so focused on establishing purity (the purity of victimhood, of being the most oppressed, othered person in the room, so that your discourse shines true and clear in its beautiful subalternity) that you have no focus on the PRIZE--getting shit done. Right now you're in college, where discourse pretty much is the equivalent of power, but once you're outside of the campus bubble, you'll have to actually do something.

And why am I anonymous? It's because in the last, 3-5 years or so, a lot of our generation's leftist activism has turned into this bizarre mob politics where anyone who disagrees with what someone says becomes a rape apologist, a racist, etc. That's part of what creates the echo chamber effect--the people touting this or that social justice discourse are able to dominate the scene because there's very little incentive for someone to publicly comment on an article or a blog post--the marginal utility of adding their name to the discourse versus the potentially large effects of being publicly shamed for having a dissenting opinion makes for an easy cost benefit analysis.

TL;DR: You are all in your early twenties. You know very little about anything. Just calm down and be excellent to each other.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 23:46

It's unfortunate that you feel this way.

There are many issues on this campus---racial apathy is at the core of this particular argument--that need attention. We will not just "calm down" or accept that people "probably agree". You sound like you think this is simple. I'm sure it would make you more comfortable if we all just "stopped".

Once again, we have found ourselves away from the issue. Where is the concern over the racial apathy and hate crimes on this campus? Where is it? Let me take stock of the responses here. We have (in response to the original article on behalf of the BSU) a response from an AC Voice writer criticizing their language, not the actual reprehensible actions. We also have a number of commenters here calling this author bitter, suggesting those concerned about the issue and the response to just "stop", comments on how Jewish people aren't white, suggestions of reverse racism, etc.

Like, what on earth? If Amherst truly had the open discourse that you seem to think it does, the proper response to the original BSU article would have been to ask why these incidents are happening. What is the administration doing to make students of color feel safe on this campus? How is every organization on this campus going about promoting inclusivity? How accepting are we of counter-narratives of an Amherst experience that may pop up (because let's be honest, people of color tend to have an entirely different experience on this campus than white people)? Is the student body even aware that supporting diversity doesn't end orientation week?

This is sad, indeed, but not for the reasons you outlined. It's sad because you can't even see what's really important here.

Yoni Rechtman (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 16:22

In her article, liya (who for those who can't tell is my sister) wrote "Lindsay’s letter plunged us back into the “oppression Olympics” and a self-victimizing rhetoric that I have in the past argued would only lead us to cross-cultural miscommunication, community fatigue and oppressive stasis." this is exactly what has happened. rather than talking about a very real problem - racism - at amherst and in the world, we're talking about who has more of a right to be offended. we're arguing over the language of how we should talk about racism rather than how we actually combat it. We're pointing fingers at one another rather than working together. this has become a battle of small differences and in waging it we've lost sight of the larger shared goal, the creation of a more inclusive and safe community.

like it or not but my sister was right and rather than being forward looking and pragmatic, andrew has plunged back into ad hominem attacks and accusations, creating division instead of unity. this is not how you solve problems, this is how you settle (imagined) scores. You say you're not an activist and you're right; an activist seeks to effect positive change in the world around them.

Alumna '11 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 16:28

Thank you for this article. You have articulated in a very cogent, intellectually rigorous way, the sentiments of what a lot of people feel on campus. Liya's response to your "Letter to Amherst: Response to Racial Epithet" was disrespectful and racist. She is hypocritical. Great job Andrew!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 18:47

you guys can argue in the comments forever about liya's privilege or whatever

... but the student body will still hate acvoice and find itself driven to apathy by their gross self-righteousness. i think that's the bigger problem (?)

Andrew Lindsay '16 (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 18:54

Hi Yoni. There's a lot of irony going on. Liya's article (http://acvoice.com/2013/10/04/action-a-response-to-bsu/) did actually very little in my opinion to address the issue of hate speech at Amherst College. That's the first irony in your criticism. In my opinion, the piece was dedicated more so to police the language of the BSU than anything. "Racial intolerance in the Amherst community is hardly an emerging phenomenon.” As Andrew Lindsay pointed out to us in an open letter to The Student this week, we’ve seen quite a lot of hate speech in the past few months at Amherst. Specifically, two swastikas, two racial epithets and one homophobic slur have appeared in our common spaces and injured our sense of campus community." That was the only place Rechtman addressed the issue of hate-speech. The next two paragraphs were about her definition of the BSU - then she spends a staggering FOUR PARAGRAPHS policing language. That's the second irony I found in your criticism. These are the first few sentences from each of these paragraphs. The entire narrative of these paragraphs was based on these opening sentences.
Paragraph 1: "What is meant by “full-on”? Does this perhaps reference a structure such as the Day of Dialogue — some channel through which the entire school can engage in a campus-wide educative initiative? But no. Lindsay states earlier that President Martin suggested something of that nature (“a symposium on race and diversity”) last year and BSU felt that it simply wasn’t sufficiently “backed” by the rest of the administration. So what kind of “full-on conversation” does Lindsay intend to encourage?"
Paragraph 2: Further, the reader is struck by Lindsay’s tense usage: “should be”. Who exactly ought to be working on such an initiative? Lindsay’s letter chronicles President Martin’s apparent attempt to get feedback from BSU members which resulted in her being asked to leave the BSU meeting because the conversation with BSU felt to some participants to be “reminiscent of containment.”
Paragraph 3: "A third and final confusion, in reading Lindsay’s letter, is what he imagines to be the “culture of ambivalence” at Amherst College. Nowhere in the letter does he show how Amherst has demonstrated a simultaneous extreme love and hate to racial issues. He has talked about indifference, certainly – misunderstanding, lack of support, inadequacy, inefficiency, perhaps even or mute aversion – but not ambivalence. He’s right that we haven’t spoken about “racial issues” enough."
Paragraph 4: "Perhaps Lindsay’s last sentence is not the place to look for the actionable nugget in this article. If we want to understand where to place our energies in the alleviation of pain for groups traumatized by hate speech, we may want to focus our attention instead on the (quite eloquent) phrase in the letter that: “meaningful diversity comes from minority inclusion, not just minority representation.”
If these paragraphs don't indicate Rechtman's willingness to critique language and word choice
My solution is less picky-ness and broad based shaming and more introspection and open discourse. Liya's "actionable" suggestions based on her definition of "activism" were used to police the language of the organization and produced a tremendously insensitive critique of the language present in the article and not the actual act of hate speech. As I said in the article above, "Why, without her explicit direction, could the BSU not express their feelings towards the campus and administration? Here language, both in this response and in the original AC Voice article, was incredibly offensive, silencing and patronizing — almost reflecting a strand of paternalism that insinuates that the organizations response was invalid and that only she knew best.” Liya may be forward thinking but in that really insensitive critique of that article last semester she silenced a whole lot of people (including myself until now).

I commented above addressing why in my opinion the critique wasn’t ad hominem but if that’s your opinion so be it. Last irony, "andrew has plunged back into ad hominem attacks and accusations, creating division instead of unity. this is not how you solve problems, this is how you settle (imagined) scores. You say you're not an activist and you're right; an activist seeks to effect positive change in the world around them" - that's crazy ad hominem.

Yoni Rechtman (not verified) says:
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 11:37

Maybe Liya is trying to police your language as a way to suppress you, maybe she isn't (hint: she isn't) but either way you're still dancing around the question. What is the actionable difference you want to see at Amherst college? We both agree that there is a problem and we both want it solved. Rather than nitpicking over the small details, why not propose something constructive. Maybe its not fair for me to through that at your feet but i think that you open yourself up to that when you become so actively involved in the larger conversation. I'm not asking for or expecting a magic silver bullet, but what is a change you would want to see on campus? what is something that might make some small difference? rather than butting heads, we should be putting them together to help fix a problem that affects our entire community. you say you only represent andrew lindsay and not the BSU, so what does andrew lindsay want?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 21:02

"Why, without her explicit direction, could the BSU not express their feelings towards the campus and administration?"

Liya never said that BSU could not express their feelings without her explicit direction. She was simply applying constructive criticism to a group, BSU, with whom she obviously shares many goals and values. Let me pose this question: Why cannot someone like Liya, who obviously cares a lot about racism and was as much impacted by it as any person of color (let me remind you that some of the acts were targeted more at Jews), criticize BSU's actions? Is BSU infallible? People keep saying she chose to criticize BSU's words instead of the actual acts of racism, but it's not as if she downplayed the significance of the hateful acts in any way. Whatever the shortcomings in the details of her article, she merely sought to express her opinion about what a more constructive response by others (including BSU) might be. Cannot activists give each other constructive criticism.

And since people keep talking about whether Liya, being Jewish, is white or not, let me remind you that the acts of racism were targeted not only at nonwhites but also at Jews.

Chloe McKenzie (not verified) says:
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 22:15

I would like to begin by endowing myself with the credentials to speak according to your logic, Andrew: I am African American, Jamaican, white and American Indian/Native American, and a woman.

I am responding to: " Jim Crow and bathroom inequality at Amherst share separation in common, but not all separation is the segregation in Jim Crow. The fact that this comparison was even made in the first place and later defended was absolutely ridiculous and just spelled oppression olympics. In response to the dump on my peers thing, I attempted to stay clear of ad hominem attacks (see comment above)." Because you charge Gina with the inability to apply/analogize Civil Rights rhetoric because she is not black, I will do it for her. Just read Gina's comment with my name over it. Problem solved. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, (remember my endowments) according to your logic, you cannot apply Civil Rights discourse either because you are Jamaican. I am Jamaican, but I am using my African American lineage here. Female bathrooms are just "a few steps away", and it was only "a few steps away" from the back of the bus. They are the same, just to subjugate one racial identity over a gender identity. I occupy both, so that resonates with me and should help you understand why I CAN make that claim, and frankly I thank Gina for making that clear and praise her for using a rhetoric that may not be from her own lineage, but certainly affects her and resonates with her.

Moreover, it is no shocker to me that an article written by a woman on a feminist blog, supported by many other women and feminists alike (men too) made you, a member of a secret all male off-campus fraternity, a place in which you can enjoy all of your splendor of male privilege, blush enough to write an article that subsequently attacked two women only to subjugate and "target the faces" of these "[female] individuals". This article may be about race, but is founded on blatant sexism. And as if the misconception of who can occupy rhetoric of racial oppression wasn't unsettling enough, it seems as though if you want to make any claim rooted in the expository power of feminism, your comments will result in an even more intense attack through applying any privilege you enjoy. And yes Andrew, you enjoy male privilege.

Ultimately, this comment section is a symptom of the Amherst community's inability and incapacity to discuss a more than complicated topic without most members, yes, "checking their privilege". I don't know, do I have the privilege to say this because I don't have anything to lose socially, no it's more that I am disgusted, like many others, by the audacity that humans on this campus can self impose titles like the "most high arbiter of who can talk about racial oppression and gender oppression". That title is as about creative as the new Dean of Students title. EVERYONE can talk about race and apply historical and contemporary rhetorical frameworks and discourses, whether they belong to it or not, but in a way that does not involve shaming or subjugation. That is not a rainbows-and-ponies statement, that's a 'I expect us to be better in how we recognize our own instances of oppression and systematic disadvantage and how we recognize other's oppression(s) and disadvantages as a result of their self-proclaimed identities" kind of statements.

That's all I wanted to say. Thank you for giving me a space to do so. Now, cue the attacks on me.

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