By Ariel Wetzel/ Student
This letter is in response to Chiho Lai’s letter to the editor “White privilege article unfair to school” in the April 24 edition of the AS Review. I write in defense of the original April 17 article on institutional racism on campus.
I appreciate that Lai points out ways the university promotes diversity. This is an example of the school’s steps to combat racism, but it does not, however, remove institutional racism from Western’s campus.
Lai points out that only one mathematics course and two communications courses are GURS while there are two Comparative Gender and Multicultural Studies GURS. Mathematics, communications, and many other Western classes portray white as the norm and are taught in a language used by whites. Less of an emphasis on mathematics does not further marginalize groups of people.
By requiring only two courses in Comparative Gender and Multicultural Studies, learning about the entire histories and cultures of “minorities” are of equal importance to one facet of the many traditional white discourses we learn in school.
I feel that Lai’s definition of racism contradicts the model used in the original article. Lai writes that “racism is the broad generalization of people of a certain ethnic background, and this article does just that, generalizing the ‘white population’ as a whole.” The definition of racism generally used by anti-racist activists, and seemingly the author of the original article, is that racism is racial prejudice and power. If the article is making generalizations about the white population, it is not racist because nobody presently has power to oppress whites based on their race.
I am glad that Lai has felt welcome on campus, and agree that we should bring people together on what we have in common. However, I do not think we should ignore race in an institution that continues to portray white as the neutral norm.