College of Liberal Arts
“I usually try to understand people, but some of the behavior I saw while a student at Purdue was inexplicable to me. The following is one of several blatant acts of racism and discrimination, although it was clearly within the Constitutional Rights of the students who acted offensively rights to behave cruelly.
The morning after Obama’s election, the news on campus was there was a nouse hung from the gathering tree in front of Class of 1950. I think there was actually an article about it in the Exponent, or J&C, but I don’t remember how I learned that it was a verifiable fact. That news set the tone for the rest of my day of classes. I arrived at my first class,which was Spanish 201 in the basement of the Foreign Language and Literature building beside Class of 1950. We all entered the room and with the exception of 3 of us who were white, every white student in the class wore red T Shirts Supporting McCain/Palin 2004.’ These students gathered on one side of the classroom, talking about Obama,I heard them say, ‘He’s not American, he was born in Kenya, he’s not the President.’ And, ‘A “N”….. for president, I can’t believe it.’ ‘McCain is the President, they” remove him, Obama is black and he’s not an American.’
My mouth went dry as I heard these things and I looked around at my classmates.The rest of the class, less than half of the students, sat on the other side. Upon hearing the white students, who were not trying to hide what they were saying, but said these things as if the rest of us weren’t there, some of the African American and Latinx students went from clearly happy, to a look of dismay, but didn’t say anything because I really think they didn’t want to trigger the anger and hatred of the white students. The white students were clearly indifferent to the feelings of the rest of us, they continued the mean comments and clear anger of the white students at the result of the election. I saw the Red T shirts all day on campus that day, but I don’t know of anyone who said anything to the students wearing them. It wasn’t the first time in my experience at Purdue where I would see bigotry based on race, sex, or disability, and it wasn’t the last. I wondered if the white students in that class, most from Indiana or the Midwest, would ever realize how wrong they were that day, and how much they are missing out on by being closed to the value of people, of any difference, and how much better a world, and they themselves can be through understanding and compassion. I wonder if they knew that what they were saying and thinking that day, comes from what is cruel and evil in human beings. The frightening thing is, they don’t consider themselves bigoted, because they don’t understand what racism, sexism, and prejudice and stereotype is. I was glad that it was over with when I graduated in 2011.” -Moira E Croley