We write in reference to a Letter to the Editor in The Lamron, recently written by a certain professor of philosophy. This letter condemns The Lamron for publishing what this professor claims is a disingenuous apology from an anonymous student involved in the blackface incident on our campus. In the name of encouraging open dialogue, we wish to offer a rebuttal to this letter.
The professor begins by pointing out the joking nature of the Snapchat post in question as well as the temporal distance of blackface as a common practice. While the practice of blackface in minstrel shows no longer exists, invoking this caricature still contributes to an image of black people in America that continues to develop in the 21st century. It does not take careful research to find stereotypes and anti-black rhetoric, both in media and in government legislation. These impressions all play a key role in a long-standing American narrative that dehumanizes black people and creates a dangerously negative image in the public conscious.
Issues of blackface are relevant, coercive and not “distantly symbolic.” Alongside other negative stereotypes, the practice has created a pervasive implicit bias against black Americans. Such practices inform the actions of all Americans, and always have. In turn, coercive practices such as profiling, police brutality and the general continuous denial of basic human rights are a direct result of practices such as blackface. Therefore, a student of color on Geneseo’s campus has every right to feel unsafe after the past month’s events. Despite the impression given over the past few weeks, it is more true to the spirit of philosophy to respect the thoughts of others and encourage a productive discussion, rather than stating one’s opinion as the absolute truth and neglecting the input of the opposing perspective.
Anonymous Philosophy Majors