The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the editor: Check your privilege and challenge yourself

Dear Grinnellians past, present and future,

Our very expensive, very robust education provides us access to a lot of learning and creates a space where we can challenge what ails the world in a safe environment. However, the problems of the world do not disappear when you come to Grinnell. They become even more real, especially as you become equipped with the language to understand the systems and structures of the world. My hope, charge, desire for us all is that we do not get stuck in the language and discussion of oppression and privilege but look inward to see how we embody that privilege and challenge ourselves to change systems—one person at a time. So friends, check your privilege. All of it—race, gender, social, class, ability privilege and do better. Simply coming to an institution with a legacy of social justice and social activism doesn’t mean that we are all socially just or active.

Check how YOU talk to others, assumptions you make about people’s experiences, the kind of benefit of the doubt you give other people, how smart you assume people are or what spaces people have access to etc. Listen without assuming and without seeking to confirm your own assumptions. Be willing to be wrong, be willing to have your ego scrubbed, ask questions and be respectful. In short, we all gotta do better but the work starts with us.

I think it goes without saying that I’ve got mad love for this institution and everyone in it but we have to recognize that we have work to do … and then we have to do that work.

Opeyemi Awe ’15


Student Government Association

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