LTE: An Alum Addresses Salzmann’s Letter On Coates Coverage

To the Editor:

I must take a minute to address Mr. Salzmann’s response to the Coates coverage in The Heights. I appreciated the honesty of the writers on paying attention to the clear irony that exists at Boston College. On one hand an author of Coates’ esteem can discuss racism at BC. Yet on the other hand, he can do it in a room lined with images of white men. This shows that race and white privilege permeates the institution. There is a reason that BC proudly, and rightfully so states when the first black students were enrolled. Because prior to that colleges such as BC did not admit students of color. We can not ignore race as a key component at BC. Whiteness is a privilege. In history, slavery, Jim Crow, miscegenation laws, lynching as well as a host of other atrocities were committed as a way to preserve whiteness. So no whiteness isn’t a crime. But a lot of crimes were committed in the name of preserving Whiteness.

We can all wish that we live in a utopian land where race isn’t a factor. We do not. We can all wish that everyone’s character should count before anything else. It does not. If we look at any measurable scale it is clear that the original sin of racism pervades the fabric of America. We can look to the words of Martin Luther King to sanitize the impact of racism. On one hand he did want his children to be judged by the content of their character. But King also said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Racism is as true an injustice that impacts us to this day.

I also take huge umbrage with the belief that many of those who fight for the rights of individuals aren’t Christian. Those who seek to call out BC on issues surrounding race often do it because of their belief in God. To question their Christianity is probably one of the most non Christian things to do. I suggest the author take time and have some real conversations with those who seek to make BC an even better place than it already is. Because at the end of the day that’s the only way we can get anywhere. And to those doing the work of calling truth to power, continue setting the world aflame in the truest sense of the Ignatian ideal.

Akim St.Omer
BC ’06

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Staff

1 Comment

  1. It’s always impressive how writers can put forth such long-winded diatribes about the history of racial inequity in American institutions and make (completely non-substantive) demands that dissenters wise up (“I suggest the author take time and have some real conversations with those who seek to make BC an even better place than it already is”) – without proposing any explicit solution to those issues. Sure, the implicit solution you’ve already put forth is to silence white dissent, but what practical suggestions do you have for giving BC a more racially friendly climate? Take down the pictures of the white Jesuit presidents? Speaking of which, did the writers of the original article languishingly describe the pictures of BC’s white presidents lining the wall because they felt in any way victimized by the unchangeable history of Boston College? Doubtful, since Shannon Longworth and Kelsey McGee are both white as mayonnaise. Seems like the two were doing nothing more than projecting their white-shame for all to see – as obedient white progressives are required to do – in an attempt to emulate the signature writing style of Ta-Nehisi Coates himself.

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