The Claremont Colleges are a place where events you couldn’t make up take place. For example, the recent “BlaQ Mixer” event at Pomona College, which initially banned people who weren’t a certain race from attending, was only desegregated after a publication by the Claremont Independent highlighting the event. A similar policy occurred at a Scripps College pool party a few semesters ago. Other events that are exclusionary based on gender or race are becoming increasingly more common. Claremont students easily call others “racist,” yet simultaneously deny that events that bar people based on their race are racist. They deny common sense definitions of racism in favor of postmodern “newspeak” that attempts to redefine racism so that such hypocrisy can be justified.
To add to this hypocrisy, I recently came across an article titled “Exclusive Spaces are Necessary” in The Student Life, written by Gloria Bates and Margot Rosenblatt defending racial segregation at such events. At one point in the article, Rosenblatt and Bates write “Claremont students [have] no qualms in maintaining anti-black and/or heteronormative attitudes.” This accusation comes despite the exceedingly left-leaning beliefs of Claremont students. Take for example, dozens of widely applauded posts on the main Claremont Facebook meme page “Meme Queens of the 5Cs,” consisting of “memes”—some of which remark that “all men are trash” and use racial slurs to refer to white people. Rosenblatt and Bates state that the “[Claremont Colleges] are still not a sufficiently equitable space,” which may well be true, but perhaps in a different manner than that which they imply. Below are just a few screenshots of posts in the group. The group is highly popular in Claremont, and remarks such as those below are encouraged by many members.
Screenshot from Meme Queens of the 5cs, Facebook meme group for the Claremont Colleges (1/3)
Screenshot from Meme Queens of the 5cs, Facebook meme group for the Claremont Colleges (2/3)
Screenshot from Meme Queens of the 5cs, Facebook meme group for the Claremont Colleges (3/3)
Their article claims that Claremont is so overwhelmingly “anti-black and heteronormative” that such exclusive spaces are necessary for the well being of racial minorities and those that are LGBTQ+. This assertion is simply not true. They claim that Claremont students are not in fact mature enough to respect events geared towards certain groups. But did the opening up of the “BlaQ Mixer” to all who want to attend (“allies”) destroy the integrity of what the event was attempting to do? More importantly, where are the numerous specific examples beyond vague hypotheticals of where these events are ruined because they aren’t closed to specific groups of people?
Rosenblatt and Bates continue, arguing that “minority students feel the need to have spaces to themselves” as a justification for racist segregation. What happened to the Claremont Colleges being “inclusive” and “diverse” places of learning? Events consisting of only one group of people are not diverse; they are in fact completely non-diverse. They add that such spaces can be considered “comfort zones” for minority students. Are Rosenblatt and Bates implying that people are made uncomfortable by others because they are a different race? The mind boggles. Imagine a white person in Claremont openly and ironically saying “black people make me uncomfortable.” There would be absolute uproar—such a person would be condemned by almost everyone and their career prospects would likely be compromised. However, defenders of segregated events openly condone this attitude when directed towards white people.
Even though Pomona College is 34% white, compared to 61% white nationally, claims that Pomona College is a white supremacist institution persist. Interest groups for nearly every racial group except for whites exist. Even as the student body population has become increasingly hostile towards their favorite boogeyman, the straight white male, counterintuitively, it’s said that this group remains institutionally favored. All the evidence points in the opposite direction; the straight white male receives the least help from the institution even as they comprise less of the college body and become further demonized and ostracized by interest groups. Prejudice may exist in the reigning culture of the Claremont Colleges, but this prejudice may well be directed at different groups than those that the leftist narrative claims.
Furthermore, Rosenblatt and Bates insist that minority students should “regulate their own exposure to prejudice by maintaining spaces free of it.” This statement implies not only that people outside of a given identity are inherently prejudiced, but also that people within the group are “free of it.” This thinking follows with the increasingly dogmatic postmodern ideology of the campus body politics. Certain groups by their immutable characteristics suffer from inherent evils. Separation from these certain groups are necessary for the safety of others. This way of thinking is certainly not new, but the more recent applications of this dogma are facing less scrutiny than movements that employed this thinking in the past.
To further expand on this point, they state that these exclusive spaces are needed until this supposed prejudice towards minorities is wiped from Pomona College culture and the institution itself. Yet, in their postmodern ideology, this achievement can only happen with a total deconstruction of these institutions and cultures. This way of thinking can only serve to indefinitely perpetuate victimhood culture. As a freshman, it came as a shock hearing a senior tell us during orientation that we needed to literally “burn this school to the ground.” After four years of living on this campus, unfortunately, this opinion is not fringe, but one held by a significant amount of students. It comes as no wonder that only around 20% of Pomona feels “strongly comfortable discussing politics with other students”—aside from how liberal students are four times more likely to be comfortable discussing politics compared to conservative students. At Pomona, 53% of the student body are liberal, 24% are very liberal, 16% are moderate, 3% are conservative and a rounded 0% are very conservative. Keeping this breakdown in mind, it seems absurd to claim that Pomona’s atmosphere towards racial minorities and the LGBT+ community is anything but open and accepting. It also would seem that being a real minority on campus has nothing to do with race, gender or sexual orientation, but rather political affiliation.
Additionally, in a seemingly unrelated side note, the article also brings up a controversial Facebook group that Rosenblatt and Bates accuse of being “alt-right,” despite being a group for free speech that “contains a range of political views and backgrounds.” Indeed, the Pomona College administration declared that the group did not do anything wrong and was simply engaging in “protected speech.” Let us suppose, though, that such a group was “racist” or “alt-right.” That wouldn’t justify other people being racist, yet Rosenblatt and Bates try to spin this situation as a justification for segregation. The justification for these segregated events would seem to mirror the thinking of a Jim Crow South much more than any movement in the liberal political tradition. The obsession of college students with being “woke” leads to these mental gymnastics, where people end up defending absurd and immoral ideas so that they feel accepted by their fellow students.
There is a succinct term one can use to describe this phenomenon: groupthink. Generally, people think of themselves as parts of groups, and it’s perfectly fine to be proud of being a part of such a group. For example, I am very proud of my British ancestry. The British have a long history and have contributed in countless ways to improve the world. I very much enjoy telling people about where I’m from, about my cultural norms and so on. In turn, I love hearing about others’ backgrounds too. However, I would never want to exclude, say, non-British people from my culture, but rather I feel it is much better to invite them to celebrate it with me.
Identity politics is doing its best to tear the Claremont community apart. Students are put into boxes based on their skin color, and told that people of a certain other group are inherently racist, and people wonder why “racism” still exists in Claremont. We can see examples of this toxic obsession with identity all over college campuses. Just this morning, when I opened the website for The Student Life to cite Rosenblatt and Bates’ article, I was immediately greeted with another piece by Anais Rivero that blasts white feminists for, well, having white “privilege.” Of course, there are legitimate instances of white people being racist to people of color, but it does not follow that all white people are racist, which I have heard several Claremont students say verbatim. Nor does it follow that these instances mean that the culture as a whole is inherently toxic to students that are not white. Personally speaking, I am quite certain that an individual that is being openly racist to others at any event at Claremont and at Pomona specifically would find themselves quickly condemned and ostracized by the social body. This observation is quite certain to be true, as conservatives are often ostracized by the student body as a whole even without even having engaged in any acts of racism or condemnable behavior. Cancel culture is quite alive at the Claremont Colleges, even for those who are liberal but find themselves relatively to the right of the student body at large on a specific issue.
As someone who wasn’t born in America, but instead in a very rural, ethnically homogenous part of Europe, I have been shocked to learn of the racial tensions that this country faces. However, returning to segregation of people based on their race is not the answer. I grew up with the belief that you should judge people on the content of their character, not immutable characteristics such as race or sexuality. My friends come from a range of ethnic backgrounds and, to be honest, I really don’t care what their race is. I care that they are kind people, rather than seeing them as tokens used to insist that “I’m not racist.” If Claremont students want to tackle “racism,” they need to start seeing the humanity within everyone, and stop with the constant obsession over skin color and identity politics at large.
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