On Oct. 12, 2018, the Bates Community organized a panel with security personnel to address the toxic relationship between students of color and security. The crux of the issue is security approached the students in John Bertram Hall in an unruly manner by violating their personal space and shouting profanities such as “f*** you” when the students pleaded for some respect. However, this issue raised the question as to why security felt like it was within their authority to use this form of abusive power. Is it because they feel like they were protecting the students or was it because they felt as if they are above the law? This article will tackle the principles of security, which is the reason for them having jurisdiction over certain individuals.
It is no secret that people of color, in general, do not have a good history with the police considering the years of dehumanization and segregation that police have enforced on the Black community. But the question is, how can a system that’s built on the principles to protect and serve all citizens contribute to the oppression of several identities?
The problem with law enforcement is that there isn’t enough representation of people of color in law enforcement. So, when a white person tries to intrude on a situation with people of color, there is a set of culture differences that make the encounter very hostile. White people are automatically born with white privilege; additionally, they believe that they are entitled to power over others, and when that power is being challenged they assert their power to show their dominance. That’s exactly what happened at the party. The security officers exacted their power over the students and expected them to listen no matter how they were treated, but security felt threatened when the people of color asked for an explanation for how they were talked to. The security officers couldn’t handle the fact that students were standing up for themselves, and acknowledging that they deserved respect considering the effort it took them to get accepted into this school. Even the security officers’ inability to give a proper apology showed how hurt they were due to their privilege being challenged. One of the security guards apologized in a way that put the students at fault and tried to escape the fact that what she did was rooted in racism. The security officer used the fact that she was also from a different community. This is illogical because unlike the students who she verbally attacked, her community hasn’t been oppressed by the very system she represents.
However, the security officers weren’t the only group to blame in the meeting. When it comes to the people of color community, we are raised to distrust law enforcement because of the pain and discrimination they put our people through. Unlike many white children, children of color don’t see law enforcement as a savior, they are more so as a danger. So when people of color came on this campus, they already had trauma when it came to law enforcement, whether they knew it or not. Therefore, it is difficult for the security to speak their minds without their ideas being misconstrued or manipulated. Not to discredit what people of color feel because how they felt about the incident and security is totally valid. But, this was to bring awareness to the fact that people of color tend to assume security doesn’t care.
In order to get over this rough patch, security needs to reevaluate their employers and see who’s really here to protect and serve the students. Meanwhile, people of color need to heal, and try to look at the other perspective.