Campus News News

How @blackatspringfieldcollege uncovers realities of racism on campus

Irene Rotondo
@irenerrotondo

An account, @blackatspringfieldcollege, emerged in late August on students’ Instagram pages– right before their long-awaited homecoming to the Springfield College campus. 

Following only a few other accounts like itself from other colleges and universities, @blackatspringfieldcollege had no information in the bio about who was running it, just the words, “A platform for Springfield College’s Black community to be heard. Shining light on the reality of being Black at Springfield College. DM Submissions.”

Soon, posts began to appear on maroon and white backgrounds. These posts have ranged from first-person retellings of racist events both experienced and seen on campus by students from all races, to extreme cases of vulgar racist incidents, to outright call-to-action statements made by the account owner and directed at Springfield College itself. 

This account, alongside other newly created and preexisting movements like SEED Club, the Black Student Union, Men of Excellence, Women of Power, and more, is part of the students of Springfield College’s own undocumented plan for change.

In truth, there has been much discussion fueled by Springfield College administration about anti-racism, diversity, inclusion, and #BlackLivesMatter. This includes the past summers’ Conversations On Race, the upcoming SEAT At The Table events, the establishment of the Campus Programming Planning Committee On Race (CPPCR), several statements from the school following the deaths George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the introduction and following correction of their theme “Silence is not an option and words without action are not enough,” and the Black Lives Matter flag flying on Naismith Green.

However, some members of the campus community, including the account owner of @blackatspringfieldcollege (who chose to remain anonymous to secure the integrity of their page) feel that not only has Springfield College not made the structural changes the Black students are asking for, Springfield College simply does not hear them.

“Black Lives Matter flag(s) and banner(s) are cool and great symbolic things,” said @blackatspringfieldcollege. “But that doesn’t stop a Black student from being scared to go out on the weekend and hearing racist remarks and the N-word. That doesn’t stop Black students from feeling uncomfortable and not feel at home for not having a Black professor or Black counselor or coach to go and talk to. And that doesn’t stop a student from getting profiled by Public Safety.

“I hope this page will get the administration to commit to some structural or tangible change, finally,” @blackatspringfieldcollege continued. “We want to feel like we belong here and don’t want to have our guard up. Many Black students here get put on the marketing material and shown off by this school, yet the school won’t do anything to make it so Springfield College is a place for everyone. Not just the white students but everyone. There is a lot of talk but not enough action.”

Racism comes in many different forms; more often than not, modern racism, especially on Springfield College’s campus, doesn’t always mean white people shouting racial slurs or resorting to physical violence.

Modern racism related to the campus is composed of the “meaningless” jokes tossed around at the Cheney table, internal judgements white students make upon first impressions of newcomer peers, passive-aggressive tones white people use towards BIPOC. It’s composed of actions the English language doesn’t even have names for but they are what they are: racist. @blackatspringfieldcollege has given the students an opportunity to highlight all forms of racism reported to them on campus.

“I think this page shows that racism has many different sizes, shapes, and forms,” @blackspringfieldcollege said. “From the overt things, like saying or writing the N-word, to more covert things, such as microaggressions, it looks different for everyone, but everyone’s story is necessary nonetheless.”

The account owner also recognizes that their posts may cause retribution from not only Springfield College administration, but some students as well. Yet, @blackatspringfieldcollege feels that the mission and message are more important than a personal risk.

“My perspective is that if the school or anyone else has pushback against the page, then that’s the side they chose to be on [and] so be it,” they stated. “Where it becomes upsetting and annoying is when you say you are against the page [and therefore] the stories on the page, but you’re still posting Black Lives Matter on your Instagram, or the school [is] having and waving a Black Lives Matter flag. Don’t be contradictory, own up to how you feel, hypocrisy is not okay.”

As for the actual content of the page, every post is submitted as a Direct Message on Instagram. The account owner then will copy and paste the message into a graphic design program for the page’s aesthetics and complete a spell-check for accidental typos. Then, the story is posted 100 percent anonymously.

Of the 30 posts on the page thus far, 25 are anonymous recounts of racism associated with Springfield College. These recounts have been submitted by an apparent diverse selection of individuals, especially including alumni and students. Three of the posts have been dedicated by the account owner to statements from themselves to Springfield College administration, and one person who submitted their account of racism actually chose to identify themselves by name and as a 2016 alumni.

@blackatspringfieldcollege is appreciative towards all who have supported them in this first month of their account’s existence, and wants to let the Springfield College community know that their account was created not to create rifts or cause issues, but to shed light on both the daily trials and extreme cases of racism Black students have to face.

“I thought people’s voices need to be heard and [to] put these stories out there, so people know what goes on within the arches of Springfield College. Black students just want to be able to enjoy going here and get treated respectfully,” they said.

“I would like to thank you all for your support from all the various members, whether you are white or Black, on campus who continue to send in their stories and share their stories. Thank you for letting me be that amplifier so everyone can hear you. Everyone has a voice, and you can use it and impact everyone for the better, whether at Springfield College or back home… This is not a battle of us vs. other students, but a fight we are all in together.”

Follow @blackatspringfieldcollege on Instagram to read the anonymous stories of being Black on a mostly white campus from the Springfield College community.

Photo: Black at Springfield College Instagram

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