All summer I saw posts of allyship and people reeducating themselves and all kinds of powerful forms of allyship. It was amazing to see people wanting to better themselves and claiming to call out casual racism.
But all of that went away when in retaliation to the drug policy, I heard students saying, “Well it is not fair to have this policy because it will disproportionately affect Black and brown students.” That is a statement that wrongfully perpetuates the misconception that Black and brown people are more likely to be involved with drugs, which is statistically unproven on this campus.
When Sewanee athletes were not allowed to travel to play against other schools in the NCAA, certain players decided to quote Maya Angelou, a prominent Black poet and activist for Black rights, to air out their frustrations. Many students claim that everything that has happened to the Vice-Chancellor thus far has nothing to do with race. But if you look at the record, no other Vice-Chancellor has been spoken to or treated like this, even when our previous Vice-Chancellor was initially against stripping Charlie Rose, a known assaulter, from his honorary degree. You do not have to believe me, but it should make you wonder why you refuse to.
I have a lot of love for Sewanee. But everyday it gets harder to stand up for a school and a culture that does not respect me, does not allow me to take up space in everyday life, and honestly, does not love me and my peers back. One of the hardest things that I have to do, not only as a tour guide, but as a student, is look Black and brown parents in the eye and have them ask me, “Will my child be safe here?” I have never lied to a single parent, but every time I get asked the question, my heart gets a little heavier.
Photo of Peggy Owusu-Ansah (C’23) standing in Convocation Hall. The hall hosts several portraits of Confederate founders of the University of the South. Shown are Vice-Chancellor Telfair Hodgson (left) who served in the Confederate Army and Chancellor James Hervey Otey (right), a slave owner. Photo courtesy of George Burruss (C’22)