Chris Friend ’14 wrote a Letter to the Editor to discuss last weekend’s incident of racist vandalism at Williams College.
How would Amherst react to the words “All Niggers Must Die” being written on a dorm room wall? Would we sweep it under the rug, or perhaps pretend that things like this don’t happen here? Maybe we would rise to the challenge faced by realizing that such hate can still exist among incredible bright people. One can only hope that we would react as well as the students at Williams have reacted on Monday to that phrase being written on their walls. A large proportion of the Williams community rallied against this message (and the unwillingness of the Williams administration to initially bring it to light) — not to mention the cancelling of classes and sports practices. The Black Student Union and black faculty at Williams issued a series of demands, including cancelling classes until further notice, establishing a safehouse for students of color, and creating a task force into looking into diversity requirements for classes. They have been able to take a moment that would be something that could cause terrible pain and divisiveness into a movement against such hate, and into a learning experience for everyone. Some people may try to suggest that such things can’t and wouldn’t happen here — and that Amherst College is not Williams College. There is literally no difference between the people at Amherst and the people at Williams — we are all smart, young, supposedly cosmopolitan people who are supposedly no longer supposed to ‘see’ race. We should not see this is as a moment to ignore, but to learn and reflect, because the most terrifying part of this is that it could happen here.
One hopes that the College community would not react with the classic Amherst apathy. I hope you would walk out of your classes until we dealt with this. Let us take this as a learning experience from Williams so we do not have to deal with it here. Amherst should extend its regards and show its willingness to stand with Williams during their time of strife, and against hate.