by anonymous, ’13
Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault
I don’t know if I said no
But I didn’t say yes
Hands in fists, belly up
Torn from sleep
Awoken from ignorance
by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12
When I was an undergraduate I had several people tell me that I should just pretend that my family wasn’t poor, that I hadn’t gone to a bad school, that I didn’t grow up in a rough neighborhood, and that I hadn’t been abused. I was supposed to pass, which should have been even easier for me because I was white. I was deeply offended by this, I am not ashamed of where I come from, I have no reason to be. I went to Stanford, what do I have to apologize for? I am proud of my working class roots, because even though it was difficult it made me stronger, a better human being, a better teacher. I also found this advice to be terribly impractical. For one thing, I had an accent, and for another I could only reference what I knew and having never seen rich people before Stanford I really only had one truth to talk about. I couldn’t lie about my mom when it was visibly clear to everyone that she had had me as a teenager. I couldn’t make up stories to hide the fact that my summers were spent looking after my brothers and sisters and reading books. There were things I obviously didn’t know about, foods I had never seen, cultural references I didn’t get, and locations I had never heard of. I developed some close relationships with people more privileged than I was so that I would always have someone to call when I needed something explained to me, which was quite often.
by Emilio da Costa, ’12
I’m not shocked that a white man killed a black boy and that the deliberations of the American judicial system resulted in that white man serving no jail time. I’m not shocked that there exists a Florida self-defense statute, colloquially known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which not only encourages acts of violence founded solely upon suspicion, but also effectively pardons white-on-black killings. When I read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a book that makes the case for mass incarceration of lower-class minorities being a calculated mechanism of mass disenfranchisement, I wasn’t even shocked that the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid or that black males are five times more likely to spend time in prison than white males.
by Lina Schmidt, ’15
This article originally discussed only the Boston Marathon bombing. Because it is being posted now, it has been revised to include some events of the past few weeks that are also important to conversations about prejudice and privilege.
A lot of my friends, family, and fellow students at Stanford have been watching the news over the past few months. A lot has occurred: the Boston Marathon bombings, the trial of George Zimmerman and, recently, two Supreme Court decisions with grave implications for the Voting Rights Act and Native tribal sovereignty. These events all have something to do with the way US culture views race and ethnicity or, to its peril, attempts to ignore them.
by Valarie Kaur, ’03
On June 15th, 2013, alumna Valarie Kaur, gave the Baccalaureate Address to the Stanford Class of 2013. Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer, and this is what she had to say:
President Hennessy, Dean McLennan, professors and staff, family and friends, and the Class of 2013, it is a profound gift for me to return to Stanford to address you. Ten years ago, when I stood in this spot to deliver the student address, I believed what they always tell us on graduation day – that your Stanford education empowers to change the world, that we are the ones we have been waiting for. But what they don’t tell us in college is just how dangerous the journey might be and what that courage might cost.
So I could tell you the story of how I found my passion in a classroom in the Main Quad right over there, or how I snuck a raft onto Lake Lag in the middle of the night, or how I survived SLE [Stanford’s Structured Liberal Education program].
But the story I must tell you today begins in crisis. Continue reading
by Giselle Moreau, ’16
My entire life I’ve been defined by my hair. In fact, people describe me by it, praise me for it, locate me by it—it has been the go to for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to approach and interact with me. I even wrote my college essay on how I “was” my hair.
Last night I started pondering getting a hair cut. I was only looking to get my ends trimmed, but then my thoughts expanded and began asking me questions: what if you really cut your hair? What if you cut it short? What if you cut it all off?
by Sammie Wills, ’16
Yesterday, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote, because “it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.” With this decision, Facebook exploded with the reactions of many individuals — some full of sheer bliss, some seething with anger, and some couldn’t care less.
I wanted to explore some of these reactions, and hear first-hand what students and alumni had to say about the recent rulings.