The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: February 2018 (Page 2 of 4)

Suffering Industry Disproportionately Impacts Immigrants of Color

On Monday, February 5, a New York City cab driver named Douglas Schifter shot himself to death outside of New York City Hall. Just hours before his death, he posted a Facebook status in which he claims that politicians drove him to his suffering. In his status, he states the following: “I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead.” There has been a negative relationship between the New York cab industry and so-called “startups” like Uber and Lyft for a while now, as there has been between taxi drivers, and Uber in particular, during the taxi strike against the Muslim immigration ban around this time last year.

I assume it’s pretty well-known that many of New York City taxi drivers are immigrants of color. The New York Times reported in 2004 that 84 percent of taxi and livery drivers in the city are immigrants. This number has only risen over the years, from 38 percent in 1980 to 64 percent in 1990. The majority of taxi and livery drivers come from the West Indies (Dominican Republic or Haiti), followed closely by drivers from South Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India). The majority of yellow cab drivers, specifically, are South Asian immigrants.

So, why is this relevant? Let’s trace back the timeline. In January of last year, there was a taxi strike at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. I remember the energy of this entire weekend being heavy and urgent. Donald Trump had issued an executive order on that Friday as part of what he called an “extreme vetting plan” to keep out whom he Islamophobically calls “radical Islamic terrorists.” So, lawyers were stationed at international airports across the country working to release people who were denied entry and detained. The taxi drivers were protesting outside of JFK airport between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.. That afternoon, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Facebook page posted the following statement: “by sanctioning bigotry with his unconstitutional and inhumane executive order banning Muslim refugees from seven countries, the president is putting professional drivers in more danger than they have been in any time since 9/11 when hate crimes against immigrants skyrocketed.”

While the organization was standing by (Muslim) immigrants of color, Uber had decided to continue operating with service to the airport and lower its rates as well. This difference in response between New York City taxi drivers and companies like Uber (and Lyft, which capitalized on the public’s outcry at Uber’s continued service as its rival) reflects a much larger issue under the surface: over the years, Uber and Lyft have used their “political might,” as executive directer and co-founder of NYTWA Bhairavi Desai claims on Democracy Now!, to win deregulation bills and outcompete the existing taxi industry.

Still known to many as startups, Uber and Lyft combined “ironically spent more on lobbying than Amazon and Walmart combined, and Microsoft, as well.” Desai claims that these companies are operating in a “gig economy,” which she describes as “destroying what has been a full-time profession, turning it into part-time, poverty-pay work,” and they’re using Wall Street money to do it.

Douglas Schifter, according to Desai, was the third taxi driver to commit suicide in just the past few months. Desai states, “I have never seen drivers in more deeper despair and crisis.” This situation runs deep, and it is highly political.

 

Bates Greenhouse Opens its Doors for Sustainable Earth Week

As part of Sustainable Earth Week at Bates the EcoReps in conjunction with the Eco Justice house organized a tour of the elusive greenhouse on the top floor of Carnegie. Once you arrive at the top floor, you need to climb an additional flight of stairs to arrive at a white, steel door– the only thing that separates you from the fabled greenhouse of Bates legend. The greenhouse is looked after by Mary Hughes, the plant coordinator for Bates College.

Upon opening the door, students on the tour stood in awe of the general “green” exuding from the door’s entrance. “As you can see, we have a beautiful view. It’s very nice and quiet up here, especially in the winter time,” commented Hughes as students looked out the windows to see the skyline made of roofs and trees. Fashioned like a botanical garden, the greenhouse is filled to the brim with cacti, succulents, and other exotic “humidity-loving” plants.

Hughes began the tour by pointing out Professor Andrew Mountcastle’s beehive in the corner of the room. “Over in this corner we have Andrew Mountcastle, he does flight projection and he’s working with wasps and bees, so that’s his little contraption over there” she said, pointing to a door that warned “Do Not Open… Seriously.” Although Mountcastle’s experiment is self-contained, the greenhouse is often visited by outside life, such as bees, wasps, ants, and other critters such as aphids. To this, Hughes shrugged, “It’s just how it is.” She went on to say, “We do only treat organically, that’s basically with dish soap and organic soap, we do get aphids and we get the mealy bugs—it’s just part of life in organics.”

“It’s hard to believe that this is kind of like a lab,” stated Hughes midway through the tour, “but one of the things we do is plant diversity, and the students will come here and pick a plant to study it and learn to the identification and all that. A lot of different types of plants are here, these are more of our humidity loving plants which are in the back here…”

She next went over to point out one of her personal favorite plants. “This hoya plant was given to me and I wish it was in bloom because it’s just amazing. It’s the most bizarre flower that I’ve seen. It’s a vine plant, and it just grows and grows, but it’s purple and it’s just very unique…” Often throughout the tour, a certain flower or plant would catch Hughes’ eyes, such as the orange clusia (“It’s just—It’s just gorgeous…But, you know, I’m partial”).

After the official tour, Hughes was excited to field any and all questions thrown at her by those on the tour. One student asked why there were dark spots on a fern. Without missing a beat, Hughes replied, “They’re not bugs, they’re spores. So in the wild, or in the forest, they’ll get old and then they got hard and fall off, and they’ll either propagate on the ground or the wind will take them, that’s why you find ferns everywhere!” she laughed. “And we’ll find ferns in all these different pots,” she gestures around the greenhouse “You know, it just transports so easily.”

“We have banana trees, and we have a pitcher plant! Are you familiar with carnivorous plants? Pitcher plants are carnivorous…This is one of my worker’s, and it was looking a lot better than this,” she laughed a bit nervously, “It’s very, very sensitive, it has to have purified water, and our water appears acidic, as you know if you drink the tap water…So we’re trying to get this back to looking good.” She went on to describe where these pitcher plants can be found, in places like rainforests and South Carolina, but also, according to Hughes, “You will find it in the woods in Maine in the bogs, because it stays warmer with the peat moss [decomposing] and all that.”
Before too long, the tour was over and the students filed out the door after taking a satisfactory amount of photo-ops with the plants. As students descended the steps back to Carnegie, Hughes joked, “Now you have to be biology majors!”

Club Spotlight: College Guild Helps Inmates through Education

Discussions during this year’s Orientation Week frequently reflected back upon Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy. Many found themselves left in disbelief after learning about the pervasiveness of institutional abuses within our nation’s criminal justice system in this year’s required reading. Currently, one club on campus is trying to extend that conversation and foment it into practical action – and there’s a possibility you’ve never heard of it.

College Guild, founded in 2001, is a non-profit organization affiliated with both Bates College and Bowdoin College that provides free, unaccredited academic courses to prisoners throughout the country. The courses are unaccredited for a reason – many accredited courses are not available to prisoners in segregation or on death row.

Bates and Bowdoin students volunteer as “readers,” evaluating and reflecting upon the inmates’ work while providing them with words of encouragement. Course topics, which inmates successfully complete after finishing six units relating to the subject, range from science to Greek mythology to gardening.

Julie Zimmerman, co-founder of College Guild, sheds light on the organization. “Respect-based programs like CG are important because they have been shown over and over to reduce recidivism,” started Zimmerman. “They’re important because prisoners need something positive, productive, and encouraging to fill their time. They need to know that they are still human, and the feedback from College Guild volunteers conveys that message loud and clear.”

Decreasing recidivism is a principal aim of the organization – the College Guild motto, in fact, reads “Respect Reduces Recidivism.” According to the organization, participants in educational programs reduce their chances of returning to prison by 50 percent.

But the organization doesn’t start and end with Zimmerman – it needs volunteer readers to survive. “Getting involved is important for Bates’ students because they carry a new understanding of criminal justice with them for the rest of their lives. We learn from our CollegeGuild students as much as they learn from us.”

What’s more, Zimmerman stresses the enormous, material impact College Guild has had on its students in an effort to underscore the organization’s importance.

“College Guild has received hundreds and hundreds of letters  [from inmates] telling us what College Guild has meant to them. One student wrote to say he had to drop out because he had enrolled in college courses. He said the organization gave him the confidence to believe he could succeed in college. He ended with, ‘I owe you the entire world.’

Imagine reading letters which say, “You saved my life,” “You made me a better man,” “You’re the only one who believed in me.” There are no words to describe the feeling!”

I also spoke with Cristopher Hernandez Sifontes ’18, student co-president of College Guild at Bates, to discuss the engagement of the program with Bates Students.

“I joined College Guild in the winter of 2016 as part of a CEL requirement in Professor Cynthia Baker’s Human Suffering seminar. After visiting their offices and speaking to Julie Zimmerman, I was struck by the strength of the values and mission of the organization. I was determined that we should bring College Guild to Bates and encourage students here to play an active part in bringing about timely solutions to the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States.”

Sifontes remarks that “Every unit that I receive from a prisoner-student is remarkable in its own way. To read incarcerated individuals express themselves in relation to subjects of academic and personal importance is to develop an understanding of the equalizing power of education.”

One issue that faces the organization is the enormous demand for readers from prisoners nationwide.

“Joining College Guild is easy for students at Bates, but precisely because there is a shortage of volunteers it is not so easy for prisoners themselves – incarcerated individuals currently face a waitlist of about 3-4 months before they can join.” As a result, Sifontes also stressed the importance of Bates students joining the initiative.

“College Guild provides Bates students with an incredible flexible way to give back to a broad community in a tangibly significant way. Volunteers meet with me for a 15-minute orientation and start receiving scanned responses from prisoners around the United States. Volunteers then use the existing units to provide focused, constructive feedback to students.”

For more information about College Guild, visit http://collegeguild.org/.

Saleha Belgaumi ’18 Finds Herself in Art

Saleha Belgaumi ’18 is one of the most talented people I know at Bates. We met during a life model drawing session last winter semester after she came back from a study abroad program in Rome. It was my first time modelling for the sessions and Belgaumi, quickly realizing my inexperience, gave me tips on how to better sustain the longer poses. Belgaumi (who I quickly got to know as “Sal”) had a number of incredible life-size studies of the human body pinned to the wall of the drawing studio in Olin.

As a fellow studio art major, I already knew that Belgaumi was up to something intellectually and technically challenging and, even back then, I could not wait to learn more about her practice. Last Thursday morning, I finally got the chance to interview Belgaumi about her senior thesis work and career at Bates.

As I walked into Olin 253, I was mesmerized. Three senior thesis students shared the space – the walls and floor were covered in studies, sketchbooks, brushed, canvases, and wood. All studio art theses are year-long and there is a good reason for it. It takes time to find one’s personal voice, even for the most experienced artists. “I’ve only just made a piece that is finished; that I am happy with; that I think is resolved in itself,” Belgaumi told me. The fantastic artwork that Belgaumi referred to is a large canvas drawn in charcoal portraying a crotch covered by a pair of hands. On top of the figural body, intricate yellow patterns in yellow paint flatten the dimension of the image while adding dynamism to its composition. Pinned to the walls, I could see dozens of studies that led to that final composition. The size, subject matter, color balance, and the raw canvas texture of the piece immediately called my attention. For me, the pull of the gaze was accompanied by a push, in form of the slight discomfort of looking at an intimate framing of a gestural life-size crotch.

Belgaumi was reluctant to provide any explanations about what the work is about – the audience has to do the work of interpreting and relating to it in the first place. What Belgami revealed was a trend that connects a few of her works: “My work is about my thoughts and feeling about the experience of being myself,” she mentioned.

There are a number of challenges that come with portraying one’s own experience. Belgami is a biracial (half American and half Pakistani) female artist, and her identity certainly is evident in her work. But there is more to experience than collective identity. Belgaumi told me that no one should be responsible for representing the collective and general experience of the race, gender, origin, and culture. Belgaumi mentioned the art world’s tendency to tokenize identity, reducing artists’ lived experiences to a collective struggle (and reducing a collective struggle to a personal experience).

While her work may encompass collective identity, it is representative of her own personal experience that surpasses any possible check boxes. “I don’t intend to represent a whole group of people, because I am not a whole group of people,” she told me, responding to the stiffening of identity in issues of representation. Belgaumi’s hope, which I am sure is already successful, is that the audience will look at her work and have a reaction to it without the need for a reductive given explanation. “I just want you to look at it and have your own thoughts! That’s the whole point,” she emphasized.

The technical aspects of her art are as impressive as her critical approach to interpretation. Belgaumi has had some form of structured art making practice pretty much constantly for over a decade – she is familiar enough with the forms of the body to create and recreate it from memory. I look forward to seeing what Belgaumi will put forth for the senior thesis show later in the semester. In her technically skilled self-exploratory practice, she already far surpassed conventional notions of identity painting, and there is much to expect from this body of work.

 

Berger ’19 Directs the Charged Play Dry Land

When Rebecca Berger ’19 chose to direct Ruby Rae Spiegel’s Dry Land this semester, she was told she would need to include trigger warnings and a sensitive director’s note in both the program and posters for the show. She was even told she might receive hate mail. “Honestly, that made me want to do the show even more.”

This week, I interviewed Berger, a theater major with a focus in directing, about her experiences choosing and directing Dry Land. Berger is directing the show as an independent study this semester. It opens in the Black Box Theater on March 16 and plays until March 18. The play is about “abortion, female friendship, and resiliency.” When choosing the show, Berger focused on plays by female playwrights about strong female characters. “I think it’s really important to have a show written by a woman because she… lends her own personal views, ideas, and life experience to the show and to the characters.”

On the subject matter itself, Berger chose to put Dry Land onstage at Bates because she felt it was “really important in this political climate.” While, in public arenas, “women’s reproductive health and just health in general… gets constantly pushed aside,” Berger wants to talk about it.

Set in a high school girls’ swim team locker room, the play follows the story of a young girl who is seeking an abortion in Florida, a state in which she cannot get a safe abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian. To avoid having to tell her parents, she tries to figure out a “back-alley” abortion method.

Spiegel includes the actual abortion in the show and wrote a note to directors insisting that the “abortion should be seen, and should not be covered by any sort of set piece or a costume item.” Berger explained that if the procedure is “covered, that tells the audience that [abortion] is something that should be disguised, not talked about, or pushed aside because it’s taboo.” When directing the scene itself, Berger intends to “stay true to… the experience of the character” and show “how scared she would be, rather than make it a spectacle with all this blood.”

The central conflict of Dry Land is abortion, but it covers a host of other topics as well. The show touches on mental health, bisexuality, queerness, and “how the characters deal with all these other problems and… the isolation that goes along with figuring out who you are in high school.” Due to its focus on female friendship, Berger proudly explained that the show passes the Bechdel test, which asks if, in a work of fiction, two women talk about something other than men. “It’s about a women’s issue… and how women feel in society.”

Through a story about abortion, Spiegel is able to make a profound commentary on the expectations of young girls in society. Berger discussed that as women, we are told to “look a certain way and… act a certain way.” “Once you hit a certain age, you become a sex object. But, if you act on that… that’s a horrible thing. Suddenly, you’re considered a slut and a whore.” Directing this show is a sign of resistance against societal expectations for Berger. “I want to show that friendship is messy, high school is hard, love is messy. There shouldn’t be any hard and fast lines.”

Concerning the show’s subject matter itself, Berger encourages those unsure or conflicted about abortion to see Dry Land so that they are able to “expose themselves to things that they’re scared of.” Berger explained that exposing these sorts of topics in the theater space is particularly valuable. Theatre, as a medium, is unique in the sense that audience members can “absorb” and “connect” to shows, and then continue to process and think about what they’ve just experienced once they’ve left the theater. “It’s going to be a funny show, because it has to be, because it’s so dark. And I hope people will come and see the light as well as the dark.”

 

Kristyna Alexova ‘19 Talks About Earning NESCAC Squash Player of the Week

At the beginning of February, Kristyna Alexova ‘19 of the Bates women’s squash team played terrifically and kept improving her individual record. Alexova, from Boskovice, Czech Republic, played at the No. 3 position for the Bobcats and went 4-0 over the span of the week. For her performances, she earned NESCAC Women’s Squash Player of the Week. This marks Alexova’s first time that she has received this award. About her play, she says, “I felt really good last weekend. The team has been helping me a lot after rejoining post-study abroad.” Making the adjustment from a semester abroad back to the middle of a busy season cannot be easy, but clearly Alexova has done an impressive job. Success in squash at Bates is not new to Alexova, who has been selected first team All-NESCAC in both 2016 and 2017, her freshman and sophomore years at Bates.

During her first year at Bates she played at the No. 1 position for Bates and compiled a record of 21-5. That same year she competed as an individual at the national championships and even advanced to the Holleran Division (C) finals. Last year, she played at the No. 1 and No.2 positions for Bates and compiled a record of 16-5. As Alexova gains more experience on the team, she continually shines as a squash athlete, sweeping individuals in high-stakes competitions such as the NESCAC tournament.

Back to this year, last week, Alexova began with a 3-1 win in her match as the Bobcats took on the Polar Bears, ultimately defeating Bowdoin 9-0. In this match, Alexova lost the first set 10-12, but then won three straight with scores of 11-5, 11-7, and 11-5. Next, on Saturday, February 3 she first played Middlebury and then Wesleyan. Against Middlebury, she won her match 3-0, and then beat the Wesleyan player 3-0 as well. In the match playing the Panthers, she won the sets by scores of 11-6, 11-5, and 11-8. Later in the day, she beat the Cardinals in her match with sets of 11-8, 11-5, and 11-9.

To conclude the NESCAC tournament, the Bobcats played Tufts on Sunday, February 4. Alexova swept her match then, as well, winning 3-0 with sets of 11-7, 11-7, and 11-8. As a team, the Bobcats placed fifth in the tournament. Looking at the season as a whole, she says, “I think everyone is in good shape, including myself. We have some really great young players on the team, and I think the season went great overall.”

Still to come is team nationals next weekend, followed by individual nationals in March. When asked about the team matches coming up, Alexova says, ” I believe we worked really hard and we can win every single match. Hopefully everybody stays healthy so we have our best chance.” Although the NESCAC season may be done, she is still focused on finishing the rest of the season strong.

Ultimately, as Alexova completes her third year at Bates and third season on the squash team, she reflects on what the experience has been like so far: “Bates Squash has taught me a lot about teamwork and time management. I have really enjoyed being with my teammates both on and off the court. We had some great times together. I think Bates Squash has a very bright future ahead.”

 

Search Committee for Associate Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Seeks Student Input

As a part of their search for a new Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, Bates Title IX Officer Gwen Lexow and Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Dressler held a listening session last Friday. The session was designed to give students a space to discuss the kinds of traits and ideas that they felt would be important in a candidate for the position. Though sparsely attended, the listening session successfully sparked conversation for those in the room.

The title of Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion is a new name for an existing position, previously known as the Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity. The new name is meant to reflect changes in the responsibilities involved the position that have taken place naturally over the last few years.

According to Lexow, while the holder of the position had previously overseen the Office of Intercultural Education’s (OIE) programming, the search committee is now hunting for someone who will be more focused on big picture issues rather than day to day operations.

“This [position] is not work that sits in one office. This is work that sits everywhere,” said Lexow.

Lexow and Dressler came to the meeting as representatives of a larger search committee. The committee includes four faculty members, four staff members, and is in the process of seating two student representatives.

Each student representative will have an equal say in committee matters. In addition to Friday’s listening session, another student session will take place on Thursday, February 15. On the in between, a listening session will be held for staff members on Monday and faculty members on Wednesday. The focus on including multiple parts of the Bates community in the search process as either committee members or through a listening session is something that Lexow feels is important because of the scope of the job.

“This person has to be able to interact with and earn the trust of a variety of constituents,” said Lexow.

When asked what they personally considered key attributes of a candidate for the position, Dressler and Lexow both said that they felt that an ability to listen to a wide variety of people, acknowledge different experiences and a focus on social justice issues on campus were important qualities in an ideal candidate.

“I think with regards to students, we want someone with a firm grasp of Student Development Theory, especially Student Development Theory not rooted in dominant identities,” said Dressler.

Dressler went on to explain that Student Development Theory is a mode of thinking that focuses on finding a variety of ways to get students to learn successfully. For Dressler the ultimate goal of Student Development Theory is to level the playing field for all students.    

Though only one student not from The Bates Student was present at this meeting, conversations on a variety topics relating to the position and campus life took place.

Both Dressler and Lexow are hoping for increased student participation at their next listening session and noted that students wishing to share their input can reach the committee through emailing avpequitysearch@bates.edu.

The search committee hopes to have a list of semi-finalists to interview for the position by the middle of April, and to ultimately have a select group of finalists come to campus and interact with students, faculty and staff in May.        

Dungeons and Dragons: Beginners Lead The Game

“This corridor is filled with cats. Lots and lots of cats,” Alex Teplitz ’21 says to her players, smiling unnervingly. “They meow at you.” She’s taken on the role of ‘Dungeon Master’ for the first time at Bates, and each of the five students gathered around the table with her is fixated on her every word.

Nayt Delgado ’21 is the first to reply: “I meow back.”

Soon, there’s chaos. Cats are following the characters everywhere, strange raven-people called kenku are sending waves of telepathic communication, and octopus-tentacled stalactites are falling from the ceiling to try to swallow up the hearty adventurers. Teplitz looks on and guides the story, pleased.

The Discordians is a Bates club that gathers every Friday night in the Fireplace Lounge from 7-9 for Board Game Night, in addition to running various Dungeons and Dragons adventures, hosting Magic the Gathering drafts and tournaments, and providing a variety of other campus events. With almost unlimited capacity, the Discordians foster positive environments for non-alcoholic games and activities of various sorts on campus. Dungeons and Dragons adventures are one prominent way the club does this–getting people who wouldn’t normally connect engaged in cooperative storytelling can build powerful bonds in unlikely ways.

As the Director of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) for the Discordians, I coordinate various weekly and biweekly D&D adventures, many of which have been running for multiple years with the same players. However, this past weekend, a couple of first-years had the opportunity to run some adventures themselves, testing out new storylines, characters, and monsters before a welcoming audience. Teplitz says her past experiences with D&D have “opened her mind to a world of creative possibility,” and she wanted to do more. Both she and Sam Britner ’21 led exciting new stories this weekend and helped players new and old have an excellent time.

Dungeons and Dragons, for those who don’t know, is a tabletop role-playing game. What this means is that each player creates and takes on the role of a unique adventuring hero, and then chooses what that character does over the course of an ongoing story. For example, in Britner’s adventure, I played Galinda Glitterstorm, a dwarf paladin who tosses glitter into the air frequently and loves small creatures like goblins, because they are similar to Munchkins. I nicknamed her, “The Good Witch of the Mountain.” Throughout the story, I did my best to take actions that I thought showed Galinda’s personality and desires, rather than my own. So even though smashing the magical sigil in the center of town might not have been the smartest idea, Galinda tried to do so, because its magical glow was at odds with her reflective glitter (Galinda also had an Intelligence of 9, which is quite poor). Various other players took on the role of other characters, and, together, we helped create a story both fun and dramatic.

The Dungeon Master takes on a special role in the cooperative story creation, by playing the parts of the non-hero characters in the story, and by describing the world around the heroes and knowing its secrets. So while I had no idea why the magical sigil was in the center of town, Britner did, and created an air of mystery to his tale by hinting at a powerful darkness somehow connected to the sigil. He also used quirky voices and exciting music to add dynamic tension and flavor to various characters and experiences the heroic ‘player characters’ encountered.

Both Teplitz and Britner successfully created compelling stories that the players (myself included) profoundly enjoyed; hopefully, they learned something about cooperative storytelling as well. However, it’s often difficult to find players for new Dungeons and Dragons adventures, especially here on campus. That’s why the Discordians provide resources to students who don’t have the resources or connections to find adventures to play in or players for their adventures. Tristan Kane ’20, who plays in a weekly D&D adventure, commented, “I really like the way D&D makes me think critically about problems. The ways in which we approach an issues as a team can be the difference between success or failure.”

Teplitz also shared some about her experience: “There’s no other activity I do that involves so much laughing and creative problem-solving with friends–notifications and apps and stress forgotten for those three magic hours.”

All in all, Saturday’s event was fulfilling for all involved and may lead to some fantastic new adventures, and perhaps cats, down the road.

Justice Geddes ’20 prepares his moves in Saturday’s Dungeosn and Dragons game. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

Are You a Racist?

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Blacks folks don’t have that choice.” In Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, she illustrates how white privilege is like a shield for white people when it comes to oppression, because their white skin grants them opportunities that other races can never have, due to negative stereotypes. Essentially, white privilege is a veil of ignorance that white people inherently wear, as laws and systematic oppression do not have an impact on their lives. Furthermore, they don’t have to acknowledge the underlying hatred and subordination in these laws.

Meanwhile, people of color always have to be vigilant, because laws and systematic oppression were created to build a hierarchical system that puts white people at the top and people of color at the bottom.

Now, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering: how does white privilege relate to an article about who can be racist? But it’s simple! White privilege addresses a problem about an idea of racism-which is power. White privilege is a form of power because, fundamentally, it represents how skin pigmentation decides the amount of opportunities you can receive. Additionally, this power caters to a certain demographic while simultaneously marginalizing anyone who falls outside the category of white. Racism stands as both hatred and power.

In order to be racist, one would have to exert power over another individual, and the language that person uses would have to affect the other person on a systematic level. With that being said, it seems like only white people can be in power.

So, now the question that I know is beckoning inside people’s mind is: why can’t people of color be racist? Well let’s take a white person and a black person for example. Imagine a white person saying a racial slur to a black person. This would be problematic, wouldn’t it?

A white person saying a racial slur to a black person is unequivocally wrong because he/she/they inherently have more power and privilege than the black person. The slur is based on hatred and stems from a sense of hatred. However, if it was vice-versa, one could argue that although the slur was said out of hatred for white people, black people simply do not have enough power to affect that white person systematically. Even if the black person was a teacher and the white person was a student, and the teacher made racist remarks against the white student, it wouldn’t be racist. The teacher could go so far as failing the student, but ultimately that student will still have his privilege to rely on and secure a job. Black people, as well as many other people of color, lack the power aspect needed to be considered racist.

The “Sociology of Racism” by Matthew Clair and Jeffrey Denis would also agree that white people are the only people capable of being racist. His article talks about how racism stemmed from the subordination systems white people put in place to gain power. In one section it lists “colonial violence towards indigenous people,” slavery, and Jim Crows laws as results of racism because white people used their power to make other racial groups inferior.

Another thing to note about racism is that it cannot be individual. It is always systematic, because racists’ remarks and actions can always be tied back to some part of history or some grand scheme. For example, a person saying the n-word relates back to slavery.

Racial slurs that people of color spew about white people are disrespectful, but it could never be on par with the racial slurs white people spew, because they hold more weight. That’s why it’s important to make these distinctions; because it shows how, even though some people have hateful mindsets, they could never have the social or systematic power to act on it. Therefore, white people can be racist, people of color can be prejudiced when talking about white people, and people of color can be racially discriminatory to one another.

 

Despite Losses, Men’s Basketball Takes Pride in Leadership and Growth of Progam

Although this week’s matchups for the men’s basketball team did not go quite as planned, the team is by no means held down.

Friday’s highly anticipated game against Hamilton proved to be tough, with the Continentals creating a substantial lead by the end of the first. However, the Bobcats didn’t go down without a fight. Jeff Spellman ’20 ended the game with twelve points, coming second only to senior captain Justin Zukowski ’18, who scored the team high for the night of thirteen points. Additionally, first-years David Akinyemi ’21 and Raheem Spence ’21 got on the board, with Akinyemi scoring the first point of his college career, and Spence grabbing two rebounds. Unfortunately, that was not enough to sway the game, and the ’Cats fell 89-57 to Hamilton at the end of the night.

Hoping to snag a win, the Bobcats hosted the Amherst College Mammoths the next evening. The star of the game was undoubtedly Kody Greenhalgh ’20, who scored a team—and season—high of seventeen points. Greenhalgh, with help from consistent scorer Spellman and Nick Gilpin ‘20, held off Amherst until the very end of the game. But the Mammoths were up to the challenge—with help from their 6’ 10” center—scoring nearly fourteen straight points in the following five minutes, and eventually outscoring Bates 80-61.

When talking with the team, their two losses did not seem to be of highest concern. With the ’17-’18 season coming to a close, first-year Billy Larhart ’21 took a moment to appreciate the senior leadership on the team. Zukowski and Shawn Strickland ’18 have been forces to reckon with on and off the court.

“Strick is a natural point guard and has been a floor general for us all season long. He’s always poised with the ball in his hands, and he makes his teammates better. Always has an awesome attitude,” says Larhart. “And Zuke is an animal, simply put. He has a crazy high motor and a great shot. He gives maximum effort every time he’s in between the lines, practice or game. He’s on the floor for every loose ball and makes winning plays every time he’s on the court. That says a lot about him as a senior and a leader.”

When asked to reflect on the past week and their Bates basketball career, both Zukowski and Strickland were candid and cogent.

“Basketball has really shaped my entire experience at Bates. I’ve met some of my best friends, because of the basketball program, and it’s served as an outlet for me when the semesters have been tough, in terms of how much school work I may have at certain points throughout the year,” says Strickland. “Also, being with the program for four seasons now, I’ve been on just about every part of the spectrum in terms of our success. My most memorable moment came during my first season, as I was able to be a part of the first men’s basketball team to advance to the sweet sixteen of the national tournament in school history. It was an incredible feeling to be a part of something that will remain a bright spot in the history of the program for many years to come.”

Zukowski brought the truth about being a student-athlete. “I feel like a lot of people don’t understand how much time is put into being on the basketball team. It’s a long season, and it stretches through both semesters, which makes it hard to keep up with school work,” he says. “It really forces you to enjoy every second of the experience and the people around you. Our program has kept hold of those strong relationships with its alumni, which goes to show how much players have invested themselves in the program. I will never regret playing hoops at Bates, because I made so many great friends along the way who are looking out for me, while I’m doing the same for them. The culture we have built here is really something special.”

The men’s basketball team will have their final matchup of the season this Friday at 7:00 p.m. versus Trinity College.

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