Crying is not an easy thing to put out there. A socially traditional feminine trait, we have been shamed into suppressing emotions that aren't positive or 'happy'. Well, I say screw it. Here's a gigantic screenshot of my splotchy, bloated, crying face. Why am I crying you may ask? Well, my new vlog pretty much explains it all.
Towards the end, I have an (admittedly long) emotional breakdown where I vent my raw and messy thoughts to my camera, which is a step forward considering how awkward and frozen I get when I'm in front of my vlogging camera. For those of you who may be wondering how I addressed this problem to my university, here's the email I sent them:
To whom it may concern,
Last night I received an email regarding the weekend trip and saw that my group (the Arts & Culture students) have the theme “wild west”. In the attachment, we were instructed to bring our “best cowboy/Indian” outfits. Firstly, I would like to kindly mention that referring to Native Americans as Indians is not appropriate. Secondly, using a race and their culture as costume is a form of cultural appropriation, which contributes to the oppression of said race.
Using their culture as a costume or a fashion statement trivializes the historical (and current) suffering of Native American people, especially with the current events of the Dakota Access Pipeline. To this day, Native Americans are still fighting against systematic oppression and fighting for their sacred lands. I find it ironic that an institution which facilitates education has chosen this theme, especially since none of the Arts & Culture students are Native Americans and more than 90% are white, privileged people. I would also like to shine light on the fact that there is the possibility of students drinking in these “costumes”, which disrespects the meaning of their culture.
As a person of color myself, I decided not to go on this weekend trip even though I have already paid because I did not want to show support for an event with such a theme. Because I chose not go, I don’t know if students are even going to wear Native American culture as costumes. From my research before applying, Radboud University seemed very enthusiastic and embraces their international community. However, the fact that the university has enabled and created a space where cultural appropriation is deemed casual deeply disappoints me.
I hope that my input will affect the introduction team’s future decisions and weekend trip themes.
Again, I'm not posting this to 'expose' or 'throw shade on' my university, because I did genuinely enjoy the week despite the mishap. Furthermore, they have replied, acknowledged, and apologized for the mistake. I wanted to post my email in detail because it could help those of you who may want to speak up (especially to authoritative figures), because it can be frightening even though you know you're in the right. I also hope that it stands as an example. I am not a part of the Native American community, and I would never claim to know the weight of their suffering. However, I do know that these things are wrong, and I want to speak up, even if nobody else will. I hope I get to see the day everyone is appalled and shocked by racist micro-aggressions.
I know that it's nothing crazy, and it's not a huge step for society, but change starts at home and if I'm going to make this university my home, I sure as hell will make the most out of it.
© Selena Soemakno. All rights served unless stated otherwise.