There is an overwhelming feeling of safety in a room only with students of color. On November 6 at the #ThisIsMyRacistGoucher event, students of color and white students separated to talk about the atmosphere on Goucher’s campus, what it feels like to be a student here, how we are represented and how we plan to move this campus forward. I am black, so I joined the students of color in the Batza Room. I knew less than half of the names in the room, but still there was a comforting feeling. Students spoke of experiences with professors, administration and peers that were way too similar to my own. There have been too many times when we have had to explain ourselves over and over again and still be unsure if we were being heard. In the Batza Room, however, students shared their stories of racism, frustration and pain, and those listening nodded their heads, snapped their fingers or just simply laughed along, signaling to the speaker, “Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about and yes, I hear you.” We didn’t have to explain ourselves. We didn’t have to have our guards up. We didn’t have to spend time deciding or explaining whether a situation is racist or not, which allowed our conversation to become deeper and more authentic than those in the classroom.
Students of color were able to blow off steam in that room. We could talk about a microaggression that happened recently in our lives or just full-on acts of racism. But, for those who did not attend, it’s important for you to understand that this was not an event just to rant and complain. Most students who were disappointed in Goucher were also ready for change. Coming together and expressing solidarity is great, but we don’t need an event for that. We can complain about our struggles while sitting in Pearlstone or on our way to classes. This forum allowed us to push our pain and make a list of needs. Dayvon Love, who moderated our discussion, made us feel like we deserve to have expectations for Goucher, especially when it comes to our identity and education. We ended our meeting by creating committees that can help implement our goals for the school. Our desires range from changes in Goucher’s curriculum to better professor representation.
After leaving the Batza Room, all the students who attended the event joined for pizza and an even bigger conversation in the Hyman Forum. As I looked around, I was not surprised by the students there. I saw those who led the protests last year, those who wrote lengthy novels in their Facebook statuses and those who I have connected with on a personal level over the topic of race.
For those who did not attend the event, I understand that it happened on a Friday night and life is busy. But, I also want to add that these events are what actually make our community and the world a better place. For those who settle with liking Facebook statuses, that is just not enough. If you did not attend #ThisIsMyRacistGoucher because you don’t find yourself racist, or maybe even because talking about race makes you uncomfortable or because you didn’t put this on your list of priorities for that weekend, then chances are you are one of those people who needed to attend that event. You needed to hear your classmates, roommates, friends share their pain and make their plan happen faster and stronger.