Guest Opinion

Black people, unfortunately, are viewed in the collective. Due to a society built upon and striving to white power and privilege, black people are not seen as individuals. If one of us happens to commit a crime, we all are perceived to commit crimes.

Black people, unfortunately, are viewed in the collective. Due to a society built upon and striving to white power and privilege, black people are not seen as individuals. If one of us happens to commit a crime, we all are perceived to commit crimes. This is exactly why the assumption is out there that black people rape, rob and kill commonly. Very few black people actually engage in these behaviors, regardless of what the media broadcasts.

You must ask yourself: Why is this imagery being put forth if it’s inaccurate?

The brief answer is because, during slavery, black people would revolt to gain their freedom, and the fear of God was put into white people. The problem with these images is that when it trickles down to small Oregonian towns such as Corvallis, these stereotypes thrive. Believe it or not, I’ve met my share of white people who have never seen a black person in real life prior to meeting me.

What they know about the black image and life is based off of television shows and networks such as MTV and BET. Trust me: This is not the standard for black life. Do some black people live in this manner? Yes, some do, but certainly not all or even most.

Viewing black people collectively allows stereotypes to continue. Every black person does not think, feel or act alike. You may be reading this and think to yourself, “Of course they don’t.” However, you’d be surprised by how many people who believe in these stereotypes.

Even on this campus, every black person does not have the same experience, whether it is positive or negative. All black people don’t like chicken and watermelon.

You may even have that one black friend who doesn’t mind if you say the N-word.

Does that mean it’s any less wrong to say it? No, it doesn’t. It’s wrong and is always going to be wrong. But even some black people don’t agree with that. We do not all have the same mind.

We don’t all like rap music, Bentleys or gold and platinum chains. There is no singular black experience. I know some black people who love Oregon State University and some who hate it.

So why aren’t black people viewed individually? The simple answer is that a collective view enables the oppressor to continue dehumanizing the oppressed. The mentality is that if “they” do this, then “they” shouldn’t deserve that. The “they” is in regards to black people, and the “that” is in reference to any sort of equity.

You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to read, “There shouldn’t be a Black Cultural Center. There’s no white cultural center.”

First and foremost, having a Black Cultural Center does not mean things are equitable for black students, staff and faculty on the Oregon State University campus. No matter how much the cultural centers are bragged about by certain members within the university administration, their presence does not mean things are peachy and wonderful.

Secondly, there are 22,000 students on this campus. Approximately 300 are black. These numbers show me that the entire Oregon State University campus is a white cultural center. Black students, staff and faculty have one little house on Monroe, and it gets complained about?

Why is that fear there? Why is it problematic for black people to have a place to meet, discuss, plan events and celebrate our culture and heritage?

In fact, why are black people feared in the first place? Because of the imagery I pointed out to you earlier? The manipulated image of black people as thieves, murderers and rapists? That’s interesting, because a middle-aged white woman is more likely to steal from a store than a black person. You are more likely to get raped by a middle-aged white man, and murder occurs across ALL communities.

Why are black people singled out as denigrates of society when we clearly are not? Should I be afraid of all white men? After all, as a black woman it was not too long ago that white men could rape and sodomize me without consequence. In some places that’s still true. An unarmed black man was just gunned down by police in Portland. The officer who executed Aaron Campbell will not be prosecuted at all.

A white fraternity at University of California San Diego felt it was appropriate to have a party mocking Black History Month entitled the “Compton Cookout.” The theme of this party was to make fun of the images that are perceived to be about black culture.

The fraternity will not face any consequences, much like the fraternity who had a noose hanging in their yard here at Oregon State University faced no consequences. We can be killed, harassed and mocked without consequence, and we’re the ones to be feared? Something doesn’t add up.

Personally, I’m afraid of being on this campus. Who’s to say what can happen to me? And that’s not because I’m a woman. It’s because I’m a black woman.

Society has taught me that should something happen to me as a black woman, the perpetrator—should they be white—will probably not get into any trouble.

Now, this is based upon history and fact. The perception and stereotypes of black people are fabricated.

Again I ask: Who should be afraid?

* This article originally appeared in the Daily Barometer. It appears here in its original form.