Ole Miss needs to reevaluate some troubled traditions

I value tradition just as much as anybody else.

However, when it comes to something that offends a considerable number of people, in my mind, that should be enough to take a step back and reconsider the reasoning behind the matter.

The word “tradition” has been brought to my attention for some time now, and I feel the need to discern it.

Tradition, at times, can be for building unity among a group of people, like on Thanksgiving or St Patrick’s Day, for example, but sometimes tradition is considered offensive or outdated.

In one tradition, primarily in the Netherlands (other countries celebrate it, as well), the annual feast of St. Nicholas consists of a blackface character known as Zwarte Piet.

These men, women and children have been wearing this blackface since around 1850, and to them, it is considered tradition and not racist – until recent resistance. Traditions like these should be allowed to evolve when people feel they offend them to some degree.

Some Mississippi traditions like the state flag, Dixie and Colonel Reb, among others, do not signify the unity that is supposed to be held with the students, staff, faculty and others who love this university.

To me, not embracing these such traditions has now entrenched me as an outcast of many school spirit activities and further shows the segregation of the student body in which traditions for a university are not supposed to do. The university has gotten rid of them, but many students still relish them on a daily basis, and it is saddening to see.

Moreover, the university this year has record enrollment and the highest minority percentage ever enrolled at Ole Miss. In that regard, we cannot have what I believe are racist traditions, symbols and names on a campus that is progressing on improving inclusion and diversity.

I acknowledge the fact that I do not speak for all minorities on this campus regardless of classification but for a large group of people who feel the same way toward these things.

Many traditions like segregation, Black Codes, the using of slave trade labor for profit and the Zwarte Piet were all passed down generation after generation, but the majority of us can agree that they were unjust.

Though some of these examples are extreme, I want to explain that just because something is tradition or law does not make it just.

I and many others who have come before me and are here today will continue to fight for the people whose view on such traditions is the same or similar. The question is: Will you be on the right or wrong side of history, as the decades have shown, like the 1962 Ole Miss riots?


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