Racism at Woodstock: fact or fiction?

Are you a racist? No? Think again. 

Racism has suddenly become a flashpoint between citizens and governments across the world, especially the United States. 

You have probably heard about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, which were triggered when George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was brutally killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. When the incident, which was taped, went viral (all 8 minutes 46 seconds of it), millions of people across the US, and eventually across the world, came together. 

Our school has released an official statement, where Dr. Craig Cook, principal, addresses the situation. The letter clearly stated Woodstock’s stand against racism. 

We stand against racial discrimination, economic injustice, and violence,” Dr. Cook wrote in the letter. 

One may say that Woodstock can be considered a microcosm of the world with faculty and students of different national, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The recent incidents force us to ask ourselves does racism exist in Woodstock?

While we might not see a lot of overt racism, there are elements such as the rampant use of the N-word which indicates that racism does exist on campus. The term is so casually used that it is easily overheard in everyday conversations in the Woodstock dining hall — its use does not turn heads or raise eyebrows. 

 “A lot of people find it cool to use the term, but what is cool about it? Seriously? [even if] they [did not] mean it, [they’re] an ignorant human because if they knew the history they would not dare to mention it”, said Faadumo Adam, class of 2021. 

While some may argue that this term is used in good humor and is not meant to be offensive, normalizing a racist slur is just one example of covert racism that we unintentionally participate in. 

The word, with Latin roots, originally meant black. It was used to derogatorily address dark-skinned individuals during the era of slavery, and with time it turned into slang. Even though the word is used by African-Americans with a sense of endearment, when someone else uses it, it’s racist. Yet even in 2020 a term that is so derogatory is a part of the Woodstock vocabulary. 

Racism has many different variations. For most people, typical racists are considered to be those who carry negative connotations about someone based on their ethnic origin. They express their opinions using terminology that is often derogatory.  

Taking this thought forward, all people can be classified into 3 broad categories- 

  1. Those who are openly racist. 
  2. Those who actively speak out against racism. 
  3. Those who do not participate or display racist behavior and generally ignore/ tolerate racism around them.

While the first two categories are a minority, the silent majority keeps out of controversies and avoids participating on either side. This majority of students may be squirming on the inside when the n-word is uttered in front of them, yet their ignorance  just to avoid starting an argument, actually encourages the use of the word.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu, a human rights activist, famously said.

So let me ask you again. Are you a racist?
Riya Gupta is the news editor of The Woodstocker 

Edited by Janvi Poddar

2 thoughts on “Racism at Woodstock: fact or fiction?

  1. Great article as always from all of you at the Woodstocker. It’s no longer cool to say your not a racist . I agree.

    We need to all be an Anti Racist. This should be a weekly class as well. So you amazing Woodstocker spread the word and follow the principal in thought words and action.


  2. Well-said, Riya. I appreciate you voicing your opinion here, and I hope the Woodstock community has the courage to take on uncomfortable but vital conversations and actions to embrace an anti-racist culture.

    Liked by 1 person

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