Well, this happened on my Facebook newsfeed today. It astounds me how remarkably unintelligent Duke students can be. To reduce Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to a matter of “Muslims” hating on Israel oversimplifies a conflict fueled by far more than religion alone.
This year has been a shitstorm for the academic institutions that I have been, and am currently enrolled in. First, the Duke porn scandal hit the presses and sparked a frenzy of debate on the definition of feminism, purity culture, and the supposed “toxicity” of our campus as a space for women. Now, a Buzzfeed article is circulating that portrays my highschool as a battleground where Ralph Lauren wearing, lacrosse playing white boys antagonize minorities for sport. Here is a link to the article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/what-happens-when-a-prep-schools-black-student-president-moc
I have a number of scattered thoughts about the issue, but let me come out and say that this situation is far more complex than the article portrays it to be. But honestly, I’m not interested in “setting the record straight” by providing an insider’s account of what really happened. Instead, I’d like to shift the conversation towards Maya’s most vocal opponents that graduated in my class. As a member of the Lawrenceville community at large, I know that this small group of people has a PERSONAL agenda against Maya. I’ve taken classes with these kids. They’re the kinds of people that I wish I didn’t have to go to school with: the kids that skip class, that make faces at their fellow students for trying hard, that shun critical thinking in favor of feigned nonchalance. But of course, when confronted with an “angry minority” (I use the term to characterize their thought process, not to reflect my own) vocalizing her opinions on Facebook, they’re willing to compose a calculated response. These responses often feature a Gandhi or MLK quote paired with a plea to “tone down” in order to be more effective. Here is a comment from a recent Facebook status of hers:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - MLK. Get over yourself, you’re causing a lot more harm than good.”
What makes me so angry about these responses is that they insist that POC should muster respect for their oppressors, all while advocating for self-empowerment. Additionally, it suggests that passive resistance is the only acceptable form of activism, when in my experience, angry, impassioned outbursts also do the trick. When we strip activists of anger, it’s like putting out the fire that drives them to consistently speak out against systematic oppression. Maya’s opponents like the idea of “passive, respectful resistance” because it is safe activism; It is unoffensive, and does not implicate them in an uncomfortable situation where they benefit from minorities’ disadvantage.
I couldn’t care less about the scandal surrounding her presidency, her disciplinary history, or sweeping narratives of the minority experience at boarding school. I’d just like to point that in the aftermath of this debacle, the group of people who always speak out against her have proven once again that they are incapable of seeing the bigger picture.
postscript: when i say “maya’s opponents,” I am literally referring to the group of ~5 boys that post snarky comments on her Facebook statuses, and their friends. also, i think the buzzfeed article itself is sensationalized garbage.