Every Hoya is familiar with the phrase, “We Are Georgetown.” I too would like to take pride in the place I call Georgetown, but I am growing increasingly critical of this community.

Over the weekend, a message posted in Red Square by Students Stopping the Trafficking of People that read, “Chocolate is good. Slavery is bad,” was vandalized on Saturday night to read, “Slavery is good. Chocolate is bad.”

Most likely, the message was not intended to be taken literally, but even if those responsible don’t believe the message, they are still joking about slavery. Slavery, it seems, is funny to some of my Georgetown peers.

When I am at a party where people are playing card games or tossing around phrases loaded with racial epithets, I am expected to realize that these terms are not meant to offend, but rather to make people laugh. If I speak out against such terms, I will be the “angry black woman,” unable to take a joke. If I am silent, I tacitly affirm that these jokes and words are appropriate.

What saddens me is not the jokes, it is my feeling that when I am absent, no one would think twice about making such insensitive remarks.

What scares me is that when students at Georgetown, Duke and Johns Hopkins – essentially our future leaders – paint their skin black for a “gangstas and hoes” theme party or proclaim that “Slavery is good,” no red flag is raised in these educated minds.

I am a biracial female raised by only the white side of her family. My family is white, my town and high school are predominantly white, and my friends are white.

I don’t loathe white people or boil everything down to an issue of race, but I ask myself why my own friends and peers find it so funny to make racially based jokes.

Are we so uncomfortable with existing racial tensions that we find laughter the easiest coping mechanism? Recently, CNN commentator Glenn Beck said something to the effect that he claimed that he has few African-American friends for fear that he may inadvertently say something offensive.

“I think part of it is because I’m afraid that I would be in an open conversation, and I would say something that somebody would take wrong, and then it would be a nightmare. Am I alone in feeling that?”

Beck is not alone in his feeling that talking or acting freely around African Americans is like walking on eggshells. This is partially because our minds are embedded with racial stereotypes. Among a group of whites, it is OK to use racially offensive language, but these references are actively hidden while black people are within hearing range of the conversation.

I encountered a student dressed as a Duke lacrosse player at a Halloween party, with the word “guilty” scrawled across the back of his jersey.

He had been comfortable wearing the costume until I walked into the party as the first, and probably only,

black person to arrive.

Although I said nothing – I was just trying to locate the keg and have a good time like everyone else – he became visibly uncomfortable and avoidant. If he thought the costume was acceptable prior to my entrance, why did his underlying feelings change in my presence?

The most important step we can take is to acknowledge that we harbor these stereotypes, despite our supposedly “colorblind” society.

We need an open dialogue about a topic that is emotionally charged for many, and I expect my Georgetown to bring more to that discourse than laughter.

Brittany Suprenard is a junior in the College.

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