In a very short time, we are about to leave the comfortable environments of CSB/SJU and enter a wide expanse of experience and opportunity. The world that awaits us is vast, filled with different people, places and events. Much of this will be completely new to us—we will experience things we have never experienced before.
Until now, we have lived in a relatively controlled environment. We have been incredibly lucky, for CSB/SJU has provided for us a variety of resources about navigating a multicultural world. The Intercultural Center has opened up dialogue about diversity here in the United States through its many events, such as the speech of Dr. Kirt Wilson or the student panel “Shade to Shade, Heart to Heart”. The International Student Office has facilitated the navigation of cultures around the world, helping people from outside the United States find their niches in Minnesota. The Institute for Women’s Leadership has challenged our thoughts about gender and pushed the female population of St. Ben’s to reach for their ambitions. Special interest clubs have provided spaces for people of many races, nationalities, sexual orientations, political affiliations and religions to express themselves. These organizations and more have taught us about the diverse world that awaits outside the campus gates, and have given us the tools to work within it.
We are leaving this controlled environment with all of its structure. However, the transition we are making has benefits. We are now able to put into practice what we have learned. The world is filled with conflict about race, gender, sexual orientation and religion, among other attributes. We can make a difference, slight but important, by using our new knowledge to build solutions, and more importantly, build relationships.
If there is a central message to take away from everything we have been taught here, from diversity panels to reminders of the Benedictine Values, it is to treat others with kindness and respect. This will be the key that opens up a more desirable world. When we build relationships with others and show that we respect and accept them, however different they may be from us and in whatever ways, we are spreading peace and putting a little water on the fire of conflict. Relationships will also be personally fulfilling to us—we can help each other to grow and support each other along every step, no matter how steep.
That is what I hope every senior will take away from CSB/SJU after graduation. Let’s all make a commitment to be respectful and kind starting this year. We will add value to the awaiting world, and when we work together, we can accomplish great things.
Culture is shaped by history. Part of our identity comes from how our families or people with whom we identify were perceived over time. History is one of the most important factors in our cultural identity, even if we don’t seem to see it in our everyday lives. Modern culture all over the world is only the way it is because of the events that preceded it.
One would think that such an invaluable piece of identity has only one form, one perfect way to relate events. If that were the case, all historians would tell the same story, and every history textbook would contain the exact same words about the same events. However, it has come to my attention that history is not as solid in our minds as one would suppose. Even if there was only one timeline upon which a certain set of events occurred—parallel universes have not yet complicated our understanding of linear chronology, much to the chagrin of many a sci-fi fan—many different groups of people perceived these events differently. I would like to call attention to the study of history as fluid. This both affects and is affected by our various cultures. Different cultures see events in different ways, and the way those events are reported affects how we act in the world.
In most middle-class American schools, children still pick up the idea that the United States of America was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus, and that this was a joyous event worthy of a holiday. From the perspective of fifteenth-century Spaniards, that is all true, and from the perspective of Britain at the height of the empire, America was indeed a fortunate discovery of land to colonize. As students enter high school and college, then they learn the other sides—Native Americans had settled for hundreds of years prior to Columbus, and were displaced by his arrival as well as that of the British colonies. Other cultures claim they sent explorers across the Atlantic long before Columbus—there is at least one Irish example and one Scandinavian. That Columbus gets the credit among so many others, especially since the land he “found” had already been found by the people that called it home for hundreds of years, seems like an accident of chance. Of course, this is helped along by the way the wealthy Spanish and English cultures of the time were better able to publicize their versions of the story. This is perhaps the earliest and most prominent example we find of how different cultures have different versions of history.
This particular blog entry is inspired in part by a panel I recently attended, one in which the speakers spoke of marginalized African history. They taught the audience several facts we’d never learned in our history class before: that Africans had one of the most powerful ancient networks of empires in history, that Egyptians (mostly black) were revered by Romans and the inspiration for most of Greek culture, that Africans ventured across the Atlantic in ancient times to share their knowledge of pyramids with the Mayans—indeed, the two styles of burial ground look quite similar—and even that Napoleon Bonaparte purposely defaced the Sphinx in an attempt to make it look more Anglican.
Perplexed that I’d never heard any of this before, I brought it up to some of my history professors. One of them told me that there was no way Africans could have traversed the Atlantic at that time, for the sea currents would not have allowed it. Another told me that the idea of Afro-centric history was hotly debated among historians, and very few believed it; hard evidence points to Greeks developing their own culture and Romans barely caring about Egypt (a mixed-race population) beyond its value as a bread basket.
From this latter professor, I asked for recommendations of two books: the book in which the theory of Afro-centric history was expounded (a volume titled “Out of Africa”) and the book in which a leading scholar gave evidence against it (a volume titled “Not Out of Africa”). Which of these books do I think contains the truth?
I don’t know, to be honest. I see validity in both perspectives. Documentation certainly seems to suggest that Egypt and Greece developed separately, each coming up with different innovations, and that Rome did not actively revere Africa. Nautical knowledge suggests there was no travel between Africa and the Americas in ancient times. However, knowledge of white privilege has shown me that our history has been, for lack of a better word, “whitewashed.” A lot of African history has been pushed aside. Similar pyramids do appear in both South America and Egypt. When I visited the British Museum, a great many Egyptian statues were missing noses, as though the Sphinx was not an isolated accident.
I don’t know which side tells the truth. Each is shaped by a cultural perspective. It may be that neither are right or wrong. This only serves to show me how each of us see history differently depending on what we’ve been taught and on our cultural background. Do you celebrate Columbus Day? Do you wish it was replaced with Leif Ericsson day? Do you spit on the idea altogether because of the atrocities that followed American colonization? Different people answer yes to each.
I advocate looking at all possible sides of an issue, especially the side of the marginalized. It is a common saying that history is written by the winners, and the most interesting perspectives can come from the “losers”. I advocate viewing history as fluid, or at least as a prism that reflects a different light depending on where you stand. Your culture has given you your own understanding of history, and that is something to be proud of…but it never hurts to do a little more investigation.
This past March was Women’s Month, a fact that nearly slipped by me while I was distracted by my various midterm essays and examinations. I’m a little surprised that it took me so long to remember the significance of the month, seeing how I think feminism is one of the most important causes that challenge our society today (which is not, of course, to say that it is the only cause or THE most important).
Over the course of this month, many departments held themed events. Two of these events reached my attention through good e-mail publicity. One, the “Define Feminism” Open Mic Night, was an event I hosted, so for me to extol its virtues would seem a bit unfair. The other was much more striking in its concept. “Natural Beauty Day” encouraged females on campus to go for a whole day without wearing makeup.
I considered the implications of this event. If actively refusing to wear makeup made up the entire premise of a specified Day-with-a-capital-D, that means that wearing makeup is the norm for females in our society. The same is not true for males—otherwise, Natural Beauty Day would not have been part of Women’s Month.
Why do we wear makeup? What’s the worst that could happen if we women decided we just weren’t going to wear it anymore? Some women on campus have already decided that. I have friends who never wear makeup, and don’t know what the big deal is.
Another friend of mine told me that she couldn’t participate in Natural Beauty Day because she was required to wear makeup for her job. This statement sounded at first like something ordinary to me. Professional workplaces require makeup. That is a simple fact I have been raised to believe.
However, what does that say about such workplaces? Again, makeup isn’t required of male employees. Why should women have to wear it to work? Also, the entire premise of makeup seems to have evolved into a cover-up. We add color to our eyes, lips, and other places on our faces because what’s already there isn’t pink enough or smooth enough or green enough (believe me, there are some people who rock the green).
Is that how it is universally perceived? Does that mean that professional workplaces that require makeup, dare I say it, don’t consider the faces of their female employees beautiful enough to wear to work?
As you already know, I’m a blogger. (If you didn’t know that, then how in the world are you reading this?) I spend a lot of time on the internet. I have become quite acquainted with certain image macros that are circulated throughout the net-surfing public, images called “memes.” Some are silly, some are genuinely humorous, some are distasteful, and some are bland. One particular meme I have come across describes women and makeup. It shows two doodles of female faces: one labeled “What women think they look like without makeup”—a face covered in blemishes—and one labeled “What women really look like without makeup”, an ordinary face. Pretty, even. Is this, in fact, true? Would we all still look just as pretty if we left the house without putting on our daily face?
I think this is the case for many of us, especially on a college campus where, unlike in professional working situations, we are not actually pressured by authority to wear makeup. Only society gives us that pressure, and our careers do not hang in the balance due to societal pressure. I think some of us might be surprised at the positive reactions that would ensue if we didn’t embellish our faces.
However, there are some of us—myself included, actually—who, for one reason or another, have been told that they should wear makeup. This can hurt, but it isn’t as out of line as you might assume. After all, the people who say these things are often thinking of those professional environments that will require makeup and expect us women to look perfectly unblemished. It is not necessarily an insult, but still a hint of a system that discourages natural beauty as a whole.
I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t wear makeup. To sum up, I merely find it odd that so much of the professional world expects us to, and that such an expectation is only placed upon women. No matter what the case, I still believe Natural Beauty Day was implemented with the best of intentions, and I wish both campuses a happy belated Women’s Month.
Lately, I have been reading. This should come as no surprise. I must have read thousands of books at this point in my life. I am actually midway through several books—there are just too many in this world to take one at a time. One of these books in particular happens to be Tim Wise’s manifesto White Like Me. The book is filled with racial commentary, though sometimes it gets bogged down in Wise’s personal stories—but I’m not here to give a review of any particular book, as much as I love doing that. Instead, I want to call attention to a concept Wise brought up.
One of his theses, if you will, is that everyone can learn about race, even races as which they do not identify, if they examine their selves and their own racial experiences—you don’t need to go on an undercover investigation among a different demographic. While I think it’s always valuable to learn about others’ perspectives, I do have to agree that we can learn a lot by examining ourselves, no matter what race we are.
By now, you’ve probably thought a lot about either the societal advantages or disadvantages you’ve experienced. Have you ever thought about what that means for others? If you hold one position in society, what position does that mean everyone else holds? If you are a recipient of privilege, do you think about what it means to not be privileged? If not, do you think about what being privileged means?
After thinking about questions like these, I find that intercultural competency becomes more navigable than I originally perceived. Subtle clues are everywhere. As a woman, I can not only say how I feel disadvantaged by patriarchy, but, after thinking about it, what it must mean to be part of that patriarchy. For example, I have been advised not to walk alone at night because I am a woman, and avoiding going outside alone after dark reduces my chances of being assaulted. I can then imagine what it’s like for men to be able to be out after dark and not fear assault. As a white Caucasian, I am not only in a position to observe the privileges I’ve experienced because of race, but also to think about what it must mean not to have these privileges. Many of my favorite films include a majority of white actors and characters, and this makes me feel as though I can belong in the Hollywood-created sphere; I can imagine what it is like for nonwhite viewers to watch films not dominated by actors or characters whose race matches their own.
I can even point out places where I’ve experienced situations not normally associated with the disadvantages of patriarchy or the privilege of being white—you can’t expect every event in the world to fall under a label, and this allows me to see that there is hope for changing the status quo of both those systems. I have been hired for several positions where my duties and salaries were equal to those of my male co-workers, proving that my employers were not seeking to favor male employees. I have also seen lead roles in my high school theater given to people of all races, proving that the directors were not favoring Caucasian actors.
I’m not saying you can learn about the world by looking into a mirror alone, but that your reflection will reveal something about who you are and who you aren’t, and what that must mean for people who have similar traits to each. It’s simply food for thought.
“White Privilege” seems to be a hot-button phrase whenever diversity is discussed. How does whiteness relate to the larger discussion of race? How much does it matter? In truth, it matters a lot, and that is what the concept of “white privilege” sets out to define.
White privilege is a slippery concept to define. According to Wikipedia, “In critical race theory, white privilege is a way of conceptualizing racial inequalities that focuses as much on the advantages that white people accrue from society as on the disadvantages that people of color experience.” In other words, white privilege describes how white Caucasians have advantages over non-white people in many aspects of daily life. Perhaps the most famous discussion of white privilege, which you have probably already heard of if you know the term, is the document “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh. McIntosh sets out to show white Caucasians the racial advantages they take for granted by asking them how many criteria which with they identify on a list. Not everyone can identify with these criteria, particularly those who are not white. The first three, for example, are:
“1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can
afford and in which I would want to live.
3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.”
Many people do not realize white privilege exists, or deny it in order to disassociate from the problem. Personally, while I believe white privilege is a problem and should be recognized, and I believe that we all have a hand in reversing it, I do not think white Caucasians need to view white privilege as an indictment that they are the “enemy.” Many individual white Caucasians mean well and are not racist. White privilege is not the fault of any lone white person, so blame does not need to be placed.
However, the problem does need to be faced. Recognition is the first step. This is not only recognition of examples on paper, such as McIntosh’s list, but recognition of where white privilege is seen in daily life. What is the racial makeup of employees at your local mall, and do you think hiring practices have affected that? What race makes up most of the faces you see speaking on the news?
Once we identify specific examples of white privilege in daily life, we can work to eliminate it. Some of us will end up working in positions where we have the chance to hire new employees, and those of us can take that opportunity to implement Affirmative Action, or at least refuse to discriminate. We will all eventually move to a different residence, and no matter what race you are or what race your neighbors are, you have the opportunity to treat them with respect. We can encourage our personal circle—friends, family—to stop making unfair judgments or offensive statements, and we can check ourselves to make sure we are not judging.
The important thing we must know is that white privilege exists. All subsequent steps can be taken from there, but we must recognize it first.
In the 21st-Century United States of America, most civilians have realized that our population is made up of a diverse mixture of races, genders, sexualities and mental states. With this realization comes a set of social codes. Certain behaviors are characterized as “racist” or “sexist,” and to be “racist” or “sexist” carries a weighty negative stigma. Most people, even those who do not feel accepting of everyone in the multicultural community, know that there are certain things which simply should not be said.
However, recently, a new video has become viral on YouTube: a video where two young women make several racist epithets. Most who have seen this video could not help but be reminded of the infamous “Asians in the Library” incident, where now-hated Alexandra Wallace posted a video describing her gripes with the Asian culture (or at least what she perceived it to be), including a mockery of the Chinese language.
All of these young women must have been aware of the social taboos surrounding race and other matters of diversity. It is general knowledge that mocking a language or bad-mouthing an entire culture are looked upon with disdain by others. Alexandra quickly learned the consequences of her actions while on the receiving end of many angry responses; she attempted to remove her video, but other students reposted it in order to expose the view she shared. What positively baffles me is the motivations any of these people have for posting racist or potentially racist dialogue on the internet. YouTube gains a wider audience for any user than he or she would have access to in face-to-face dialogue, so breaking the social taboo on racist comments via said website is not only surprising because of what is being said, but of where these users have chosen to post it. I cannot believe they would not know the consequences of saying these things out loud, let alone to an audience of millions. I am not sure they believed anonymity or distance from the virtual audience would have protected them; they posted videos that revealed their faces, and YouTube in particular is infamous for being an online community buzzing with comments, many of a negative nature.
I do not think there is any way to further emphasize how truly baffled I am that these users are expressing opinions society has told them not to express through one of the most unfiltered, public outlets available. I also do not think we have seen the last of this phenomenon.
However, this also sparks my curiosity about how we are treating the idea of diversity in the United States. Since these people—three representatives of the “everywoman” to the middle-class white Caucasian crowd—have expressed their truly shocking opinions and degrading views of other people who possess at least equal intelligence and moral fortitude if not more, I have to wonder how many of us also feel contempt towards people who are not the same race, gender, sexual orientation or level of neurotypicality as ourselves. Are we simply holding our words in because of the taboo on racist/sexist/other-ist statements in our culture? If that is the truth, why have we been taught to hold in our hatred instead of taking an alternate route of acceptance?
In short, I am confused. I know others are confused by this as well. Nothing about these public online “rants” makes any sense in our current multicultural context.
Like many, last Wednesday I attended a very poignant speech, entitled Memories of the King: How the Memorialization of the Civil Rights Movement is Shaping American Culture and Race Relations, given by Dr. Kirt Wilson. I was quite impressed with what he had to say. In many ways, his speech differed from a normal commemorative speech, and actually disapproved of commemoration. My understanding of his thesis is that we do not spend as much time as is needed on continuing the Movement’s principles in our day. As a society, do we truly advocate and appreciate diversity? Do we recognize the work that still needs to be done?
I enjoyed how provocative Dr. Wilson dared to be in his presentation, and I think his questions are questions we should indeed ponder. We often associate the Civil Rights Movement with the 1960’s, which, to the current generation of students, is long past—it was a whole generation ago. However, perhaps all along the Movement needed to be carried on so that we are still in a Civil Rights movement today. How can we do this?
I was stunned and relieved to hear Dr. Wilson mention specific cases, such as affirmative action and/or taxes. While I cannot say definitively what anyone in this generation should do or feel about those issues, in order to keep progress moving on our nation’s acceptance of diversity, I do think everyone should research those issues as well as other racially/interculturally related topics and form opinions and stances based on time and thought spent them. The biggest obstacle standing between America and acceptance is probably ignorance; people might either let these issues slip under their radar, preferring to think about things besides affirmative action, or think they know how the issue works without much examination of all viewpoints surrounding it. In the world of intercultural competency, knowledge is power.
I believe we should constantly question ourselves as well. Why do we take the stances we do? What drives us to feel as though we are in favor of or against certain taxes? Why do we react the way we do when the government brings up a racially charged issue, as Dr. Wilson says President Obama is sometimes looked down upon for such a reason? The answer is different for each one of us, but if we want to progress toward a country where we do not need a Civil Rights Movement, we need to have the drive and intention to figure out where we stand.
I am very grateful to have heard Dr. Wilson’s opinion, and I think he raises a valid point: we are not where we need to be in terms of equality. His words may have struck some of you more than others, and while many of you probably agreed with what he said, many of you also probably disagreed. I don’t think we should forget what he said, and I think we need to take a look at ourselves and continue the Civil Rights Movement instead of celebrating its end.
Hearing about Martin Luther King, Jr. continually amazes me. There were millions of other people alive in the United States during his time, and yet he was the only one who managed to solidify the Civil Rights Movement into the phenomenon we know today—the phenomenon that deserves to be capitalized. How could only one person change the nation’s outlook on race and diversity so much? Why couldn’t anyone else do the same at the time? Will we ever see another leader like him?
Of course, there have been leaders like him in the past. I’m sure most people have heard of Mohandas Gandhi and his work liberating India from British rule. Most of us have also heard of the suffragists, such as Susan B. Anthony, who worked towards allowing women the right to vote in national elections. Gandhi and Anthony could be considered civil rights workers as well. However, King’s day is more recognized in the United States than a day for either of them, and many institutions, such as our campus, devote a whole week to King.
Was there something that made King special, something he shared with people like Anthony and Gandhi, that allowed him to lead others and change the system? Sometimes it seems like he was just an ordinary man who decided to speak out. However, many of us—college students, ordinary civilians, members of the working class—want to speak out, and have tried to speak out, and have seen nothing even close to what King has done. The world is still permeated with injustices, and very few of us are able to stand in King’s shadow and work for a better world. It all just leaves me to wonder how he possibly did it; how he came into such a position that he led so many and changed so much. After a while of thinking, it just seems incomprehensible. He didn’t even hold office.
I truly wish I knew what made the difference between him and other potential leaders. I wish I knew how King was able to convince a large portion of the United States that its attitude toward race was wrong—people hate to admit that they are wrong, and can fight to the death over it. If I knew what he did differently, more potential leaders could arise and cause even more positive change.
However, I’m not sure why King was able to do so many wonderful things. Perhaps luck was on his side. I suppose all I can really do is try my best to follow his example, and celebrate him for what he has done. King wasn’t necessarily a perfect person, but he did manage to secure many civil rights, and that’s worth celebrating for a whole week.
King didn’t let injustice pass him by, but he advocated nonviolence and love of one’s enemy. In fact, he advocated love for all of humanity. In my opinion, that’s the biggest thing we can take away from King’s life. He would want us all to be able to see the humanity in one another, even when some people commit atrocities and others have to be the victims. He would want us all to realize that even though we’re all different from each other in race, religion, mental state and sexuality, we’re still human. From a Christian perspective—which King largely embraced—he saw God in all of us.
This week, in his honor, I think we should all strive to see the good in humanity and treat each other with respect. Of course, I think we should do that every day, but this week, it’s more important than ever.
I was one of the lucky few Bennies who recently were able to participate in the Real Talk: Whiteness Matters dinner event. It was not the first race-related, discussion-centered event I had attended; I had also been to a panel about race in higher education, where discussion was opened up to the audience. Between these events, and especially at Real Talk, it became quite clear to me that race is a difficult subject for most people to discuss.
At the aforementioned panel, I heard Luis Beltran suggest something very poignant: race is difficult for us to acknowledge because we are all uncomfortable with it. There are many ways to interpret this. What springs to my mind first is the great social taboo on offending others. Let me explain: I do not think wantonly offending other people is a good thing. I do, in fact, think we should all put in effort to not offend others or hurt their feelings. I am not suggesting that we make a change in attitude about offense, because I don’t know what change to make. However, I think our fear of being offensive is what repels us from discussions about race. None of us want to say anything that will offend anyone else, so none of us end up saying anything, and a kind of fear practically paralyzes us.
This is why I really appreciate events like those I mentioned above. I’m glad the Intercultural Center can create these environments where we can be open and honest about race without fear. The time will come when we graduate, and these environments will therefore disappear. What then? Do we attempt to continue the conversation, or do we hold our tongues so no one gets accidentally (or purposefully) hurt? I would like to say we can continue the conversation outside of campus, but I can’t, off the top of my head, imagine how, when or where.
I do think the discussion is important. Race still plays a big role in American society, whether we want it to or not. It affects hiring practices, attitudes on the street, media portrayals and school social status. We are most definitely not in a color-blind or post-racial society. Something that weighs so heavily on America can’t just be swept under the rug. How to bring it up, though?
Part of my hope lies in literature. Authors can write about race in an open way and publish books or articles that, because they are distributed rather than said aloud in a crowd, lessen the pressure for them to bring race up. However, the discussion of race in literature can go in a good or a bad direction. For every Beverly Daniel Tatum—a scholar versed in race relations and white privilege, who can academically discuss race in America in her writing—there is a Kathryn Stockett (author of The Help, which tries to paint a historical portrait of the 1960’s South but leaves several potentially racist messages in its wake).
Which brings me to the other problem that will occur when we leave campus. Here, during discussion-based events, we have facilitators from the Intercultural Center, facilitators who are knowledgeable and can find a middle ground where no one will be offended. When we leave, we will find people who know what they’re talking about when they talk about race, people who think they know what they’re talking about, and people who freely admit that they just don’t know what they’re talking about. Some people, no matter what their race, will be offended by one statement, and others by another. There’s no one facilitating who can just say, “Time out. Let’s step back from all of this and find the middle ground.”
In short, yes, I did just write an entire column about how talking about race is difficult. I think, however, that the perspective I have written about reflects what a lot of people who have attended these IC events have thought and felt, and I wish there was a better way to figure out how to keep the discussion going. Maybe that’s the best option: to keep the discussion on race going however we can, and when we become knowledgeable, to take leadership positions ourselves so that we may become change agents to foster a better world.
Recently, I was alerted to the highest rated definition of “Bennie” on the infamous website UrbanDictionary. For those of you who don’t know, UrbanDictionary is a supposedly humorous catalog of slang commonly used in pop culture and on the web, some of the definitions foul and disgusting.
Well, the users of UrbanDictionary decided to be foul about the students of the women’s college. I am simply stunned by what I read. I’m not going to be so disrespectful as to print it here, but in short, it implied that all Bennies are overweight and make excuses for it by quoting religion. I am simply amazed that the post’s author (and whomever upvoted the definition) would be so shameless as to trash weight and religion in the same “joke.”
First of all, to paint all Bennies as obese is a huge (pardon the pun) misrepresentation. Second, the poster seemed to have been implying that obesity is some sort of sin or irreconcilable flaw. I would like to address these hand in hand, because given the current USA standard of slender beauty force-fed to us by Hollywood, saying either of these statements can be a powerful instrument of emotional pain. For those who truly need to lose weight for health reasons, it is a struggle. You can’t just go on a fad diet for a week and come out looking like movie stars. If you’re going to berate someone for a problem they really struggle with, you might consider what it would be like to have someone constantly nagging you to bring up your grade in your worst class. For those who don’t need to lose weight, popular images of beauty (again, may I direct you to movie stars) have probably convinced them that they actually do. The last thing they need is provocation from their peers, who agree that possessors of a perfectly normal (not movie star) body type need to shrink down. This can plunge them into the same sort of struggle, only now it is a vicious cycle; they constantly seek approval of their bodies, but approval will not come.
I had thought the body image conundrum of America was common knowledge, and those who weren’t getting paid for professional airbrushing were sensitive to this. I guess not.
Third, talk of religion and the Bible was reduced to a word which I am contractually obliged not to print in this family-friendly column (please read with parental guidance if under thirteen). I do not have a strong tie to faith, and advocate pluralism. I am saying this because if even a heathen like me can see what is wrong with such a devaluation of religion, whoever posted the offending definition should too.
Religion is a driving force in many lives. It provides cultural ties and moral codes. Rituals create bonds between families and friends, and tenets spur activists to improve their communities. Most of the peace programs in Africa right now are religiously motivated. What’s more: this is a Catholic college. While the environment is open to multiple faiths, it can really be expected that religion, particularly Catholicism, will be a big part of student life.
Someone on the internet denigrated all of that.
When I wrote the twin columns about being a woman and being a man at CSB/SJU, I got the impression that most students took it upon themselves to act with dignity and grace. However, after seeing how many upvotes this “Bennie” definition received on UrbanDictionary, I am forced to rethink this. If so many people, students or not, agree to it, is our positive environment for student growth being hindered?
Please do us all a favor and downvote that definition until it leaves the internet. We really need to do better than that.