Even though college is a place where reportedly people are more educated and therefore more open-minded, there will always be a few who help perpetuate anger instead of reading a damn book. As long as there are ears to hear it, there will always be someone who dissents. Someone who will try to tear others down because they’re unable to grasp the concepts that hate speech has resulted in suicides and depression and self-harm. Someone will always suck.
As a student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, I was alarmed to find out that a young woman by the name of Mandy Thurston recently decided to post a Vine of a fellow student in our union with the caption #MonkeysEverywhere. Below is a picture of the gem:
Mandy Thurston, you’re the reason we can’t have nice things. It is comments like yours that remind us that no matter how progressive we think we are as a society, we still have so much farther to go. According to various reports, Thurston became nervous after her major fuck-up went viral and deleted all of her social media accounts, which I suppose is a positive from this situation.
For anyone who is not familiar, FAMU is a well-respected and historically black college in the area. By her comparing these two schools in a negative way, as if in some way the two universities should be segregated incited an angry reaction from the student community that I have never seen before in my four years as an undergrad. Not only did students of both FSU and FAMU quickly rally to slap Thurston down like the metaphorical hand of God, it sparked a discussion between FSU faculty as to how the university should appropriately respond. Last week I received an email from Mary B. Coburn, who is the Vice President of Student Affairs, from which this excerpt reads:
“Florida State University is proud to be a diverse community with a longstanding tradition of respect for the dignity and worth of each person. We expect each member of our community to embrace the values of civility and ethical conduct and demonstrate respect for others and ourselves.”
The email then went on to say that an investigation is currently going on and that there will be consequences. Although I don’t see how a University would be legally allowed to kick out a student for voicing their opinions, it is clear that Thurston has been cast out my her fellow students.
However, we must all remember that there are still many like Thurston who spew their ignorant comments in insidious ways that don’t go viral. T
Last week, while I was in class, I told two of my classmates a story from my freshman year, when I had a large Psychology lecture course. “Every single day, without fail, this man would come into class wearing headphones, and he would sit in the back and eat an entire pizza and just laugh to himself,” I explained to them. One of my classmates immediately hushed her voice and turned to me saying, “Well, was he black?” “Um, I mean, yeah…but why?” I asked her, my eyes narrowing.
“Well, I mean, that is super funny but it would’ve been worse if it had been a bucket of KFC, right?” she laughed while I just stood there in staunch surprise for a few moments. “No, I don’t think that’s very funny at all, it’s actually racist,” I told her before excusing myself from the conversation.
I can’t help but think in some way that we may all be a little responsible for contributing to a culture in which Mandy Thurston thought it was okay to post something like this. I can think of numerous times in the past where someone has said something racist to me, and I’ve chosen silence instead of speaking up.
It’s easy for us to forget that casual racism exists. It’s the little things that people say when they don’t even realize they’re being extremely ignorant. It’s because it has never been pointed out to them before that their comments stem from a part of their sub consciousness and they may not even realize how silly they’re being. For those who see it happen, it is easy for us to let it slip by because it seems more appealing to keep the friendly peace than fight every single battle.
However, we must always keep working towards a culture that will not stand for an environment that makes anyone feel less than human. We must stay vigilant and strong in our positive conviction. A small part of me can’t help but pity Mandy Thurston. She made attempted to make this “joke” to what, I imagine, she believed to be her core group of friends. As a result, she has been immortalized for her flippant remark.
However, I don’t really feel that bad for her. If you’re not yet progressive enough to know that no one should be discriminated against, at least keep your ridiculous bigotry off your social media.