‘I am not a white bitch’

I am not a white bitch

By Beth Rankin

There is a campus group that is nearly untouchable.

It is one of the largest and most powerful student groups, able to turn campus upside down with a single phone call. Very few columnists or reporters have had the gall to speak against the group’s policies, because the Stater is very afraid of them – and they have good reason to be.

They are immeasurably powerful.

They are Black United Students.

And I am not afraid.

My freshman year of college, my high school boyfriend and I went to the ballroom to see hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. ACPB, BUS and USS brought him to campus as part of Black History Month programming.

Coming from a town that did not acknowledge Black History Month, I was eager to attend the month’s lectures and talks and to get to know other students interested in fighting for equal rights. Back home, I was the only one.

But what I found that night was disturbing and hurtful in ways it took years to understand.

From the moment Justin and I entered the ballroom, the tension was palpable. We received puzzled stares from students sitting around us, and though we couldn’t put a finger on why, we felt incredibly unwelcome. I left feeling uncomfortable and unable to make sense of what had happened.

Back in Tri-Towers, when I told my dorm mates where I’d been, I received similar puzzled looks. You went to a BUS event? Hasn’t anyone told you about BUS? They don’t want white people attending their functions.

I didn’t believe it. Even as I heard the exact same dialog from every non-black student and coworker I discussed BUS with, I had a hard time believing that a group fighting for equal rights would covertly push away other people fighting for the same cause.

A couple months later, as a member of the Stater editorial board, the forum editor and I had a small meeting with BUS leaders. The Stater and BUS have always had a notoriously rocky relationship, and my editor thought that by hearing from BUS itself about the group’s goals, we could help bridge the gap.

Boy were we surprised when we were informed by then-leaders Teddy Harris and Demareo Cooper that BUS’s goal was not equality, but to advance blacks beyond that of whites. The goal was black-owned, black-operated businesses and universities. When we said,

“… but that’s racism …” we were told that as the majority, we were unable to feel racism. We just couldn’t understand.

Two years later, I was forced to understand.

While covering a fashion show for Uhuru magazine (I was the photo editor at the time), an angry black student hissed, “Why are you even here, anyway?” when I sat my photo gear next to him on a chair.

Weeks later, while covering a Black History Month talk by Malcolm X’s daughter, a man behind me – who apparently was unhappy with my camera – yelled, “Get out of my way, white bitch.”

Shortly after, while silently shooting another BUS event, I was called a white bitch again.

Shelley Blundell, a Kent journalism school graduate and native of South Africa, used to be a member of the Stark campus BUS chapter. But when she began attending Kent BUS events, she said she felt extremely unwelcome.

And after a controversial column on separation, Blundell said she received numerous e-mails from BUS members calling her, too, a “white bitch.”

In 2005, after humor columnist Aman Ali wrote a satirical column called, “Black people need to start sharing,” BUS made one phone call and the two days later, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and NAACP converged on campus, demanding Ali be fired. Some even pushed for his removal from the university.

Yes, Ali’s column was inappropriate and the editor made a major mistake in running it, but when pressured, the editor folded like a card table and gave in to every single demand made by civil rights groups. Since then, the Stater has been very careful about BUS coverage, and when I told them I wanted to write this column, they were nervous. I can’t blame them. BUS has showed its muscle numerous times over the years.

Now, this is not a column bashing BUS for past mistakes. This is a means to a dialog. I truly believe that BUS should embrace its non-black supporters, because there is power in numbers. We support your cause; now can we please be embraced the same way you embrace your black peers?

So this is what I say to you, current members and leaders of BUS: Tell me again. Tell me again what your goals are. I certainly hope they differ from those expressed to me in 2004.

Tell me what you are doing to reach out to non-black students who support your cause. As a straight girl, PRIDE! Kent has always welcomed me to their meetings and functions because they knew I supported their cause. I want to be able to attend BUS functions and feel the same love.

Racism is still a problem in this country, and it will never be solved if we continue to divide black from white. I have been called names and ostracized for the color of my skin, and I have been ridiculed for sharing my life with a man who is not white.

I am not a white bitch. I am a straight, white girl who will always do everything in her power to support the plight of all minorities.

I don’t use the color of your skin against you, so please do not use mine against me.

Please, BUS: Tell me how you plan to use your powers for good. I want to hear your voice, and I want to become a united front in the fight against prejudice.

I am not a white bitch. I am not whitey. I am not a cracker. I am not the man.

And I never want to feel ostracized because of my race ever again. Don’t you feel the same?

.

Response

11 thoughts on “‘I am not a white bitch’

  1. Sigh. The sad thing is that it’s easy to sympathize with her, but oh-too-easy to see that she wouldn’t sympathize back. =/

  2. She can claim loving black people and black culture and supporting their cause all she wants.

    She will never be black.

    She will never know what it’s like to have lost lifetimes and generations of opportunity because of the color of her skin. She only knows what it’s like to feel ostracized from a small group that doesn’t welcome her for a few years. This group has no power over her achievement or ability to excel.

    Try it being discriminated against for 300 years. Watch as you trace your family history and see the systematic attack on your race’s social, economic and political standing.

    Then look at it in the current day when that prejudice is built into the culture. That’s what she’s not seeing and what the BUS is trying to tell her (albeit not very well).

    Whites can’t understand until they can claim that kind of history with lasting effects to the modern day.

  3. This is a note directly to the author :

    Classic White mistake.

    It’s just not about you. I know that is nearly impossible to understand.

    Black Love does not equal white hate.

    IT IS REALLY NOT ABOUT YOU. So deal. Get a hobby.

    The Black Race is not your ever-devoted mammy, bound to serve you, bound to explain or extend itself to you.

    If all we ask as a people is to be sometimes left alone to do the healing that only we can do for ourselves,America should count itself very fortunate. This chick is so typical. I don’t even have the energy to really go indepth here. I’m too busy trying to address things that actually matter to me.

    GET A LIFE

    TAKE THE HINT

    GET A HOBBBY

    NO MEANS NO

    Are you this eager to feel included in the activites of all cultures. I doubt it. You feel entitled to glom onto the ” Black experience.” Go learn Chinese if you want a new cultural experience. Leave Black people alone already.

    Watch the movie Malcolm X again.When he tells that woman on the staircase that she can’t do anything for the cause, he was talking to you.
    Try listening. Humble yourself and move on.

  4. While I can certainly understand the argument that white people may not deserve the right to aid in the struggle for racial equality, I don’t think it’s right.

    Sure, being oppressed for the last 300 years gives you the right, as a culture (and really, can we generalize the entire culture as feeling the way Malcom X did?) to insulate yourself against the “white” outside world- but it doesn’t mean that it is a) effective or b) a decision made with moral implications in mind.

  5. The writer of this “piece of work” wants Black people to “share?” If you look at how one-sided the division of the fruits of the same Black folks’ labor has been historically, I find the assertion highly ironic.

    Is it wrong for two black people to have called her a white bitch? Yes, it’s wrong. I apologize for the rudeness of those individuals. Black folks throughout history in this country have dealt with slings and arrows ranging from having their dignity taken from them to…..well…..having their lives taken from them.

    And you’re bitching about seeing Russell frickin’ Simmons? Eye on the ball, Miss.

  6. Wow. I feel like this woman is on the elementary steps to even thinking about race and power. Somehow I doubt she gets power relations, though. But I agree with the other comments about the many, many other steps she still has to take to understanding racism…or even that she could never fully understand it, being white.

    I’ve been called a white bitch. It sucked. I understood where it was coming from – I hope she considers that. But if anyone else tried it again I would definitely not let it slide, and stand up for myself. Ive also heard black men use it, and I think some of them would call a woman of any race a bitch because they are just sexist. I think the word bitch is a slur used to discipline women…and it shouldn’t be used against them.

    But yeah, this girl probably has no clue what white privilege is…that is so big. Good luck to her, I hope she gains a willingness to confront the ways she benefits from racism…

  7. Wow. I feel like this woman is on the elementary steps to even thinking about race and power. Somehow I doubt she gets power relations, though. But I agree with the other comments about the many, many other steps she still has to take to understanding racism…or even that she could never fully understand it, being white.

    I’ve been called a white bitch. It sucked. I understood where it was coming from – I hope she considers that. But if anyone else tried it again I would definitely not let it slide, and stand up for myself. Ive also heard black men use it, and I think some of them would call a woman of any race a bitch because they are just sexist. I think the word bitch is a slur used to discipline women…and it shouldn’t be used against them.

    But yeah, this girl probably has no clue what white privilege is…that is so big. Good luck to her, I hope she gains a willingness to confront the ways she benefits from racism…

    Thanks for posting.

  8. Something tells me that if this woman actually had friends and peers in the black community she wouldn’t have such a ridiculous perspective. It sounds like she wants to be a tourist in the black community and have people thank her for her interest. And seriously, what’s so wrong with a group like BUS pushing for black owned, black operated universities? As it stands, universities are white owned and operated…but apparently she doesn’t see anything wrong with that, even though she’s a self-proclaimed ally in the struggle for racial equality.

  9. To truly fight racism, we should help her understand, not ridicule her for trying to understand and getting it wrong. It sounds like she had good intentions and needs guidance on transforming from a “well-intention white person” to an ally that understands her privilege and fights against it. If we truly want racism to end, everyone should take an active part in helping others understand it.

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