Racial insensitivity triggers community discussion


Matt Bidulph | Creative Commons

Editorial Board

As Black History Month begins, it can be easy to say there has been significant progress for African American rights since the 1940s civil rights movements, but even in 2016, racism is still a problem.

Approximately 100 high schoolers from predominantly Catholic Bay Area high schools attended a “wigger”-themed party, which combines the word “white” with a slur aimed at African Americans, two weeks ago. Consequences by their respective schools for known attendees have varied, with mixed opinions on their harshness, but it is important to realize that even as the “younger generation,” we are not immune to these antiquated views on racism.

Action needs to be taken.

When racist comments and events slip under the radar, it makes them seem acceptable.  This party, which reportedly has been going on for over a decade, is a perfect example of that. By not speaking out against this event, we have been complicit in its operation, which is the antithesis of what our school and Catholic values advocate.

Every individual is created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore has an inherent dignity, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Regardless of the intents of those who participated in or who remained complicit with this event, the party denigrated a specific group of individuals, which does not give them their due respect and is not a decent thing to do under any circumstance.

For participants who claim they did not know the racist theme of the party, that is part of the problem. Our arrogance and insensitivity to these issues normalizes them as “jokes” everyday and can blind us to casual racism.

The planning, execution and allowance of such an event was irresponsible and insensitive, and it should never have happened. In its aftermath, however, we can only hope to learn from our mistakes and actively prevent the reoccurrence of such.

As the Church’s Catechism states, “Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth.” This event opens the door to greater consideration and discussion of our own actions and values, as we grow as individuals and as a community and as we work to move past this unfortunate affair and promote a culture of diversity, sensitivity and understanding.

Being a predominantly white school, now is the time to reflect on our own privilege but, more importantly, it is time to listen.