To the Editor:
As I walked out of Commons, I saw a protest. Not unusual. What was unusual was seeing signs from protestors that said they were taught racism and bigotry at Yale. Continuing on, I go to Cross Campus, where signs were placed, trying to signal how racism and bigotry affects the Yale community (while quoting 3-4 people, which seems to me a great sample size for a university of 12,000)
I don’t disagree that bigotry and racism is wrong. I do find myself disagreeing with the protests and the reactions by many groups on campus, signaling how Yale is an unfriendly place because of scattered incidents of racism.
Really? Unfriendly because 3-4 people in an undergraduate community of 6,000, a university of 12,000 and a city of 150,000 make public their racism and bigotry? Where have these people lived, sounds like paradise to live in a place with no bigotry or racism.
It’s easy to say Yale’s unfriendly. It’s easy to have discussions among like-minded individuals. It’s hard to do what I do: I go to Wilbur Cross High School and talk about discrimination, racism, bigotry, etc. with high school freshmen and sophomores every week. How about that for difficult? It’s easy to convince those around you that live in a relatively safe environment; it’s hard to do so when you have to talk to students that live in an environment seeping bigotry.
Racism is certainly intolerable but I am tired of these overreactions. I’m tired of the empowerment given to those that commit these actions. Racist graffiti doesn’t reflect on a community; it reflects on that individual. To pay attention is to empower them because it says that we are listening. The best way to fight back is to not polarize a campus between people who are somewhat offended and people who think it’s not a big deal.
I challenge those offended. Come to the Rotunda at 1:25 pm, this Friday. Come talk to my students. Commit to the difficult action of action in an environment you can change, not the easy overreaction in a place that’s extremely friendly to you already in most other instances.
Reyes is a sophomore in Branford College. He is the director of Youth Together’s high school branch.