Luther College Chips

In response to the apology from two students

Ana López, News Editor

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I wait. I wait for the day when actions taken against hate are as bold and strong as the pain it causes in our community. I wait, but I don’t wait idly.

In the meantime, we were sent an apology by two students. While I wait, I wish to respond to these two students.

You said: “an action on our part created pain and fear among our fellow students when we created a note stating ‘Whites Only’ and left it where other students could find it.”

Two students, I want to let you know that after Wednesday, you are everywhere. I constantly fear your presence. I fear encountering you in the hallways of this excruciatingly small institution.

Your anonymity is a privilege I do not have. I walk around this campus inhabiting a Mexican body: short, messy black hair, and brown. I have an accent that gives away my otherness, my lack of belonging, my foreignness. Paradoxically, the visibility of my difference simultaneously flags me, labels me, and makes me invisible, it subordinates me.

I do not have the luxury of anonymity. You know who I am. You have seen me and heard me. My name is Ana López and I work at the Spanish Table. I found your “note.”

You and I know that it was not a “note.” You had to open the Language Center cabinet, replace our original sign, which had flags from Spanish-speaking countries and the photo of one of my coworkers. It read, “La mesa de Español.” You replaced it with an A4 sized-piece of paper, and you wrote “Whites Only” in big letters with a marker.

It was not an accident. You carefully left the sign ready to be used. It was not a “note.” It was a deliberate message to our community. I held the sign in my hands as I walked around the Union wondering how to ask for help and to who. I wondered if anyone would help.

I can’t explain to you the pain you have thrust into my life.

You finished your “apology” with: “We will be talking to our friends, students and others who were directly affected by this incident.”

I wonder if this is true. I have not heard from you. In fact, I am using this platform to communicate with you and the administration. I want to let you know that as I am waiting for the administration to respond adequately I am also waiting for you to have the courage to live up to your word.

I would like to thank the people who have supported me and my friends through our pain. You have provided me with pockets of peace and love.

If we want to think about things to do while we wait, Joshua Palkki delivered a beautiful lecture on Sunday titled “Creating safe People: LGBTQ Issues in Music Education.” In his lecture, Palkki mentioned how safe spaces are stagnant and immobile and that one should strive to be a safe person, to carry that safeness with you and provide pockets of safety in a very unsafe place.

While we continue to wait for policy, action and stronger response, I encourage student allies to take Palkki’s suggestion. I encourage everyone to strive to be a safe person.

We wait, but we won’t wait idly. And we won’t wait forever.

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