Open communication among groups required of students

This is a direct response to the article written by Timothy Karpoff, titled “Lessons learned from C-League.” I am on that team but besides that I am a black man who has several things to say to Timothy and to anyone else who cares to read this.

It is quite interesting how this article was brought to my attention. I was at dinner with my friends, and one of them said, “Did you see that article in the Record? Some kid was talking about our basketball team, saying how his team got beat by a bunch of black guys and there was a black ref.” I literally said to him, “are you ——ing (figure it out, four letters missing) kidding me?” I really didn’t believe that he was serious until I read the article and I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Tim starts with the words “There was a lot going on there besides shoddy basketball.” He then goes on to mention our team “made up entirely of black men,” although we did have a black female on the team, but that is beside the point. He then, after noticing that we “were getting almost every call. . .looked over and the referee was also a black guy.”

Considering that this college is not overrun with black people, it’s pretty easy to see who he was talking about, the one black C-league team which I was on and the one black C-league ref, Junior Reid, who happens to be one of my friends.

Tim kisses Junior’s butt at first, saying how well he called the first game he played in. Then he says how his calling was out of character in the second game, making this an obvious racial conspiracy. I haven’t even seen American History X but I figure that it told of some injustice that was parallel to the injustice that Tim’s poor IM basketball team suffered.

Let me put it like this; our team sucked, because we didn’t play like a team, but when we won, we deserved it. And all of this tension that he was talking about must have been within this team’s mind only, because our team felt none, besides yelling at each other from time to time.

So the fact that we blacks conspired to make these white guys lose the basketball game illuminates a larger problem on this campus, right? Yes it does: that Tim has come forth with one of the most racist notions I have ever seen manifested on the pages of any publication on this campus. And for him to say that it is irrelevant who was playing and who was reffing because he wasn’t pointing a finger at us is a bunch of crap because he thought it important enough to spend five or six paragraphs about us, so he contradicts himself right there.

I will give him credit for bringing up the obvious but often overlooked and unspoken fact that the racial situation here could be much better overall. He correctly calls himself a hypocrite and admits that he is a part of the problem, which is demonstrated by his conspiracy theory on why his team lost. What a sore loser, by the way.

I try to treat everyone as an individual with respect and would like to be treated in the same way, but that is not the case here at Williams. People often think that because someone is in the BSU that they automatically have problems with white people. I have problems with how people and, more particularly, certain social groups of people, of any race, act on this campus.

Some feel that they have to act differently when they are around others, than they would act on an individual basis, as if they have to maintain their level of popularity or something. I’m not naming any names, but you know who you are. This angers me, because it demonstrates the most simplistic and idiotic level of thinking that I can imagine and I have absolutely no respect for people who feel that is the way they should act.

As far as Tim’s comments on having a Black Student Union house, let me enlighten some people. That house was given to the BSU by a former Williams College athletic director and through black alumni support, Rice House was renovated. Are we at fault because we have stronger alumni support than other minority coalition groups?

And as far as the comment on the “black table” at Baxter, as Royce Smith ’01 said in the previous issue of the Record, it was originally set up as a communication space for BSU business in case people couldn’t make meetings. And even if you took everyone at that table and put each one at a different table, there would still be numerous “white tables” in Baxter, something that no one ever seems to complain about.

Not everyone does this, but it is surprising how many people, upon leaving Baxter, will not even look in the general direction of the table. For those of you who do that, what’s the rationale? We don’t bite.

What I’m about to propose most likely won’t be approached, because of this campus’s inherent cowardly instinct to dodge anything that would cause controversy, especially along racial lines. I cannot begin to say how tired I am of cowards voicing their one-sided, ignorant opinions in the paper. Are they mute or something? Why is it no one will ever say something out loud so that it can be heard? Not everyone reads the paper, so many may miss out on what is being said, which I bet many people are hoping for when they decide to write.

What I am proposing is that as soon as possible, we set up forums, big forums, where large portions of the school can sit and discuss the racial problems here. The two most important ground rules have to be that whoever speaks is both honest and respectful of others. If these things are always kept in mind, then I feel that could be a first step, however small, in trying to make things better here.

The people I am most concerned wouldn’t attend are not the members of minority contingent who are already on the same page in terms of thinking, but those who continue to write about how separatist the BSU is and other minority issues. Most importantly, I want those students who are apathetic and will not address any racial issue unless they are forced to and even then will take the diplomatic route.

Like I said, I would love for people to e-mail me if they are interested and I would be willing to set something up, but the way this campus is, I will probably hear from few, if any, people, because the student body has no backbone. Nothing would please me more than for my fellow Williams students (because that is the one thing that aligns us all) to prove me wrong.

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