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The Northerner

You can’t sugarcoat racism

Brian K. Powell

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It’s Tuesday evening in Landrum Hall. All classmates have returned from the allotted fifteen-minute break. Before the professor returns and class resumes, one student decides to flex his wit and wisdom by sharing recollections of a gay student at his high school. Now, like any good bigot, he inoculates himself from criticism by pointing out that this particular individual in question “was one of the guys.” Of course, that makes any subsequent comments excusable, right?

Wrong. Bigots, racists, and other elitists often mask their insensitivity and prejudice with “rationalized niceties”, so to speak. They fluff it up, they remove the bite, and they present it with a smile. Yet, underneath the sugarcoating there remains the taste of bile. It’s still cruel, and it’s still unacceptable.

I extrapolated from this incident several questions that I feel should be openly addressed. Would the story had been different had the subject been a black male, or perhaps a blind woman? Does it matter? What immediate gratification does one receive from diminishing the humanity of another individual? Furthermore (and most important in our subsequent discussion herein), what is more bothersome: the fact that an NKU student feels the liberty on campus to openly ridicule a minority member, or the jocular laughs that same student receives from fellow NKU classmates?

These are difficult questions, for they require us, as a campus community, to collectively look into a mirror and determine if we like what we see. I think the answer to this question is a resounding no. I love NKU. I’m committed to its success and truly believe that it has much to offer the Tri-State and the nation, but these are not the images of NKU that I like to imagine. These are not the representations that I wish to impart on future entering classes of NKU students, and because of that, I believe we must act.

Unfortunately, the efforts of President Votruba are a mockery; those of Dean Wells and her assistants are a joke. Speaking on behalf of the University, they offer minority relations nothing more than hollow lip service that fails the tests of true leadership and action. Suggestions that other students and I have made over a year ago have yet to be implemented, undoubtedly tied up in endless bureaucracy and second-guessing.

One such recommendation that I made last year during a STAR’s meeting was the incorporation of mandatory Sensitivity Training for all incoming freshmen. Critics deride this as mindless brainwashing; I believe it is essential, conducive to positive student relations. With the incorporation of this program (to be conducted during Freshman Orientation), the University would accomplish two important goals: (1) it would be an official admission that minority members of our campus and society

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
You can’t sugarcoat racism