With the Cesar Chavez holiday this Friday, March 30, 2012, I thought this a good time to post a link to Tim Wise’s “Majoring in Minstrelsy: White Students, Blackface, and the Failure of Mainstream Multiculturalism.” Wise addresses the issue of students dressing in blackface in his article; however, the same argument can be applied to those individuals who choose to don sombreros, serapes, and the like to “celebrate” having the day off from work and classes. In response to the argument that the wearing of blackface or dressing up as Latino/as is an innocent act fueled by ignorance, Wise writes
“They didn’t ask Latino students to come to ‘Tacos and Tequila,’ so as to lend authenticity to the fun. Had they been acting out of pure ignorance, they wouldn’t have hesitated to try and make the events into multicultural funfests. But they never made this mistake, suggesting that even if only subconsciously, they had to know something was wrong.”
Wise suggests that we are all responsible for challenging and critiquing the behaviors of those individuals whose actions, whether they be intentionally racist, innocent, or ignorant, run counter to our attempts “to form a more inclusive community”:
“Until white students become less concerned about hurting the feelings of a bunch of racists, or drunks (or both) by calling them out, and more committed to the creation of a respectful and equitable environment on campus, those whites who engage in acts of racism will feel no need to change their behaviors. Unless whites ostracize such students, those who find racism humorous will continue to push the envelope. Only by making clear that these kinds of things are unacceptable to us, will other whites apparently get the message that their actions are inexcusable. It’s obvious by now that they won’t respond to black and brown protests alone.”
You can read more of Tim Wise’s “Majoring in Minstrelsy: White Students, Blackface, and the Failure of Mainstream Multiculturalism” here.
Interested in other ways to pay honor to the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez? Check out this listing of events:
- TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY: “Cesar Chavez: Hero or Fraud?” Two-day film and discussion series. 5 p.m., Cross Cultural Leadership Council, Meriam Library 172. Enter from outside library on east side of building, near Bell Memorial Union.
- WEDNESDAY: Conversations on Diversity: “The Legacy of Cesar Chavez.” Noon, BMU 210.
- THURSDAY: “Educating the Heart: The Values of Cesar Chavez.” 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Student Services Center Plaza (west of the BMU).
- FRIDAY: Cats in the Community — Service work in community. Registration 9-10 a.m. at Trinity Commons (lawn on south side of Trinity Hall). People who register will be assigned to projects and work on them from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- FRIDAY: Cesar Chavez March for Justice. 4-6 p.m., starts at Student Services Center Plaza.
- SATURDAY: Honoring the Life of Cesar Chavez: A Cultural Celebration. 1-6 p.m., City Plaza.
HT: Susan Green, professor, History department, for the Wise article.