On the 1st of March 2014 a student of colour was arrested in a residential dorm at Mount Holyoke College (MHC). Her experience exposed some of the racist prejudices harbored by other students against students of colour and it revealed the ways in which campus police perpetuates these, and the indifference of the Mount Holyoke institution which allows this to happen. The student wrote an article about her experience and immediately hundreds of students and alumni responded, outraged by her mistreatment. In particular women of colour on campus felt that they could identify with the incident. Many of us have had our own racist encounters with Campus Police, Administration, Staff and Students etc.
MoHonest was born in response to the discrimination faced by “The Others” at Mount Holyoke College. That is students who do not fit neatly into the white, American, heteronormative mold. The college prides itself on its diversity, but it is not honest about lack of inclusion and the blatant oppression of the very students who make it diverse. We remain outcasts in a school that is our home too.
We have all had enough of dialogues that do nothing but cover up the fires that are started within us everytime we are treated like second class students. It is the school’s job to make us feel safe, welcomed and included. Not to treat students with various intersecting identities with suspicion and hostility. Of course Mount Holyoke does not exist in a bubble. It operates within a hypercapitalist, white, patriarchal, heteronormative society and so isn’t immune to it’s symptoms. In fact many of us came here to gain the tools with which to dismantle these systems. But we do not learn when we are treated like we are not wanted.
Our collective outrage moved the school to act in defense of the arrested student and to look into the behavior of Campus Police. This is a positive first step by Mount Holyoke because in the past our individual stories have been swept under the rug. Collectively our experiences cannot be ignored and we will not be made to feel as though we imagine the injustices we face. Moho needs to be MoHonest about the prevalence of racist oppression on campus. Other students should be MoHonest about their own prejudices against us, and we ourselves need to be MoHonest by vocalizing our experiences. We will no longer be silent in the face of Microaggressions. We will no longer be silent about the inconsistencies of Campus Police. We will no longer be silent about unequal treatment. We will no longer be silent! And we will no longer be silenced!
We encourage those who experience oppression at MHC and beyond to join the Mohonest movement. It is a much needed platform for students to mobilize against institutionalized isms. We must make our voices heard. In the words of Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and respect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Peace and Solidarity
Revolution by powerful WOC. In solidarity with Mount Holyoke students!