Thoughts on “Courageous Conversations”

“I love the distribution of who these questions are directed at”, Harry says into the microphone, his British accent ringing clear. I turn to my friend my mouth aghast. We are sitting in the audience at the first event of “Courageous Conversations”, a series in which Stanford students discuss challenging issues. This first event features Harry Elliott of The Stanford Review and Measha Ferguson-Smith of the Black Feminist Collective. The two have just answered questions from a facilitator regarding The Stanford Review article, “The Stanford Review Demands Change”.

I was not surprised when Harry voiced his discomfort. It had been clear all along, especially in contrast to Measha Ferguson-Smith, who had sat next to him, calm and assertive. Ask anyone who was at the event about Harry’s red face. About his constant folding and unfolding of legs. At one point, Measha had even resorted to stating, “I’m speaking to you” to get him to lift his eyes from the ground to meet hers.

After the facilitator had exhausted her prepared questions, she had opened the floor for audience members to put forth their own. Several individuals had raised their hands and the facilitator had assigned each a number. After Person One and Person Two had asked their questions, both of which happen to be addressed to Harry, he had made the statement. “I love the distribution of who these questions are directed at”. Harry had come to the event of his own free will. The event was open to all. The facilitator was allowing anyone who had raised their hand to ask a question.

But white male privilege knows no bounds. Sorry, Harry. I have no tears for the discomfort you feel at present. They were all used up on the “half-lives*”, the unarmed black men and women who are slain across the streets of America everyday. They were all used up when Donald Trump called for a wall to be built between us and the “rapists and criminals”.

I also have no tears when your freedom of speech is “threatened by” students of marginalized identities, whom that speech attacks. The notion that students of color can oppress a white male is absurd. Yes Harry, your freedom of speech is encroached upon by students of color. And the Master’s right to property is encroached upon by the slave who demands his freedom.

– Maya Odei, ’16 (modei@)

*”The Stanford Review Demands Change”, Demand #4

 

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