Racism is unfortunately rampant across the world, and the number of instances of hate crimes because of this feeling of discrimination seems to be on the rise. Every other day there is a video that’s doing the rounds online of people of colour being abused – both verbally and physically – just because they have a different skin tone, look a certain way, follow a different religion or even come from a different country.
The ‘White Man’s Burden’ seems to be a curse that much of the world has to live with, though there is a constant struggle to fight for one’s right to survive and exist.
The interesting thing is, in the case of a young girl Jenny Lundt, a ‘white girl’ who is a student of Colgate University, there was an attempt to showcase the ‘white privilege’ in such a way so as to make people realise the inherent discrimination against people of colour in society.
On May 1, Lundt posted an image of herself holding a sword, and rather scathingly wrote, “THIS is what white privilege looks like.” She further said that the image was a year old, and she had ran around the campus holding this metal sword. But rather than evoking any fear, people had found it funny. “People laughed- oh look at that harmless, ~ silly white girl ~ with a giant sword!!” she wrote.
But when a black man was seen rushing into a building, and carrying a glue gun in his hand, the security thought it was a weapon. Soon there was panic and the campus was shutdown with warnings issued to the students with reports of first an emergency and then an ‘active shooter’.
“That is the reality of the institutionalized racism in the United States. If you think for even a second this wasn’t profiling, ask yourself why this sword is still in my room and has not ONCE made anyone uncomfortable. No one has EVER called the police on me. Understand that there are larger forces at play than this one night, and this once instance of racism. This is ingrained in our university and our larger society. White Colgate students, we need to do better. #blacklivesmatter,” she further wrote.
As much as Lundt was applauded for this post, an open letter written by Sahil Gadhavi in response to the girl’s post and addressed to those who praised her, raises a relevant point as well. He said the virality of the post only bore testimony to the fact that the world listens only when it is a powerful, privileged White individual taking.
Gadhavi, a brown man who admits being attacked because of his skin colour, wrote an open letter to all those who agreed with Lundt. After admitting that there is nothing that can ‘make’ him White, he wrote, “Try as we might, the voices of people of color are constantly drowned by the walls of systemic racism, while white people, trying to help, face a similar situation where their voices cannot reach us over the cacophony of ignorance and the system that divides us. But every once in a while a person manages to scream loud enough for both sides to hear what they have to say, unfortunately, this is more often than not a white person.”
Gadhavi repeatedly thanked Lundt for doing what she did, but also lamented on how similar words spoken by a person of colour would have been lost in the crowd.
“I praise Jenny Lundt for doing this, for providing an irrefutable example of white privilege at work. But I must also concede, that I am filled with dejection. One of the greater things about white privilege is that it affords a white person the chance to be heard. Everyday, people of color protest the injustices and racial abuse that they experience, and find troves of white people relentlessly downplaying their reality, calling it a “victim mentality” and chalking it up to another example of people segregating themselves,” he wrote.
The letter not only reached Lundt but was also shared by her. She also urged others to read his words.
“Please, please, please read his words. If you can read mine, you can read his,” she wrote.