Black College Student’s Search For “Black Only” Roommate Causes Uproar
A group of black college roommates at Pitzer College were minding their business searching for a 4th off-campus roommate when white tears drenched their Facebook post.
Pitzer College student Karé Ureña posted on Facebook that she and some friends were in search of an additional roommate. She added that all potential roommates must be “POC (person of color) only.”
Students begin to question why only a “POC” and call out the post as being racist. Other students disagreed.
One student questioned wrote “housing segregation is illegal.”
Another post read: “I think that a POC-only housing policy is about as clear-cut an example of prejudice as one could find. I completely understand the desire not to live with people who could be racist, but excluding all white people is an extremely blunt instrument to achieve that end and a harmful overgeneralization.”
To some, Ureña’s request was completely understandable following a racially charged year when many black students demanded more support from the administration.
Other posts supporting the decision read “White people have cause[d] so much trauma on these campuses . . . why in the world would I want to bring that into my home? A place that is supposed to be safe for me?”
But are the students wrong for creating an exclusive place just for them?
“It’s exclusive [because] I don’t want to live with any white folks,” wrote Karé Ureña.
“When and if you understand this context, it becomes clear that students of color seeking a living space that is all-POC is not only reasonable, but can be necessary,” the roommates wrote to The Post. “We live in a world where the living circumstances of POC are grounded in racist social structures that we can not opt out of. These conditions threaten the minds, bodies and souls of people of color both within and without the realms of higher education. We are fighting to exist.”
Asked if the debate that unfolded was a reflection of national events and a glimpse of what the mood on many campuses may be like this coming year, they responded: “Our people are being killed. Every which way, through every which angle. Our people are being killed. Our housing arrangements are not racist. They are not exclusive. We are simply fighting to exist and we are fighting to exist in whatever way we can.”
Dalia Zada was extremely disappointed in the Claremont Independent who originally posted the debate and chose to use a photograph depicted a black man drinking from a fountain labeled, “FOR COLORED ONLY” to accompany their article.
— RightsDefender (@SecAmWorcTea) August 10, 2016
Pitzer President Melvin Oliver — a sociologist who is an expert on racial inequality and Pitzer College’s first African American president— sent a message to the campus community Wednesday about the housing ad and the debate it sparked.
While Pitzer is a community of individuals passionately engaged in establishing intracultural safe spaces for marginalized groups, the Facebook post and several subsequent comments are inconsistent with our Mission and values. …
This is but another example to us that social media is not an effective platform to engage in complex dialog on seemingly intractable critical issues that have varied histories and contested understandings. They create more heat than light and invite extreme viewpoints that intentionally obfuscate the nuanced context that surrounds these issues. Pitzer offers its new 2-course Intercultural Understanding requirement and dedicates new curricular and extra curricular programming to address difficult issues of racism, diversity, community discourse and national and international political conflict.
Pitzer is part of Claremont Colleges, a group of small liberal arts schools in Claremont, California, that also comprises Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College, as well as Claremont Graduate University and Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences.
According to school data, 48% of Pitzer’s 1,067 undergraduates are white; only 5% are African American.
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