Grey Mangan_headshot

Hello, fellow Vols! For those of you taking summer classes — good luck! For those of us back home — good luck as well!

We really need to talk about something. I'm sure you all thought that racism had met its match after Starbucks' racial bias training, but I'm here to let you know that isn't the case. The most recent in a string of racially motivated attacks, deaths and general inhumanity towards people of color in this country since this nation's birth came in the form of has-been sitcom "personality," Roseanne Barr. If you haven't read what she tweeted, look it up because this article isn't about what it was she tweeted (though that is an incredibly important subject being discussed by people who are way more important than a student opinion writer), this article is about how we digest this media today. 

We all knew Roseanne was and still is racist. It was something that was present in her show before its first cancellation. More than that, ABC knew that she was racist and still elected to remake her show, but of course that's a whole other can of worms. 

The big thing for me, when watching this all go down and splatter it's way across national news, is that her non-apology consisted of her insisting that she isn't racist. Obviously, she holds serious racial bias and hatred while expressing racist sentiments and thoughts. We all saw it happen. But in today's culture, along with the culture of yesteryear, we see over and over again the narrative of a white person saying something racist and then insisting that they aren't racist, as if there is any domain for a white person to define what is and isn't racist. 

Yesterday, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw a tweet from Austin Smith, a senior in the College of Nursing and a personal friend, which addressed the white supremacists holding racist signs on a sidewalk in Tennessee and throwing up white power hand symbols. He was responding to a seemingly well-meaning person that had said this was not Tennessee, that these people were not representative of the state of Tennessee. 

His response to this was simple: "Yes it is." In expanding on this response he further stated, "... to minimize the extent of racism in our state creates a dangerous illusion with which inaction against racism is justified." 

Inaction is the reason that these people are allowed to terrorize communities around this nation and within all nations. We have to be able to recognize racism in all places and its on every single one of us as people to watch for that and call it out. We live in a nation built from white supremacy and the bondage of people of color. We must all constantly work to get rid of the system of racial oppression in this country, which means white folk with their privilege need to speak out and act against racism at all times — not just times when it's Instagrammable to be out with a protest sign. 

So let's get to work. 

Grey Mangan is a sophomore in Political Science and Cinema Studies who is missing Knoxville. He may be reached at emangan1@vols.utk.edu.

Columns of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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