Shining Light on Feelings After the Blackface Incident

Now what? A student covered his face in black paint, also known as blackface, at a school that  only has 166 students according to Cal Poly’s latest enrollment numbers.  We’re all studying at a ‘learn by doing’ school that seems to be doing nothing about their diversity problem. What seems to be the worst problem is that we’re now known nationally as the school where a student did blackface, but what’s even worse is that it’s referred to as our “latest racist dust-up,” by news outlets. How has this incident affected Cal Poly’s reputation? That’s what my group and I looked to find out.

We were all very passionate about this topic from the start, and knew how hard it would be to get sources. At least we thought we knew. From the second we decided on this topic my team and I started contacting everyone we possibly could so we could have every voice possible in our story. Only problem is not everyone wanted to talk. Matt Lazier in Lazier fashion dodged us as much as possible until finally giving a general cookie cutter statement on behalf of the school. That was no surprise. What was surprising was that people really thought they had said enough up to this point, or maybe, thought they would say too much and that’s why they all declined to comment. Black Student Union, College Republicans, ASI President, the list goes on and on for the people who didn’t want their voices heard. For a school that is looking for change, one would think more people would speak up.

Thankfully, the people who did speak up had a lot to say. There was good contrast among our sources. Some were livid, some sad and ashamed, and some thought this was the perfect point for change. To comment on what your school has done and where it is going next is not an easy task. Our sources did unanimously feel one thing together, that there needed to be change. Cal Poly’s reputation had been affected and if we wanted to stop something like this from happening again then we needed to do more. As cheesy as it sounds, what I mentioned earlier rings true. Our “learn by doing” school is not doing enough when it comes to their diversity problem. One of our sources, Mekai Sheffie, talked about how stuff like this has happened before. Colonial bros and nava-hoes, to the freedom of speech wall, all these racially insensitive events and actions that were only met with an open forum. Mustang News even wrote an article showing a timeline of the repeat offenses Cal Poly has had.

Our story is not only to reflect on what this most recent event had done to our campus and reputation, but to give a platform to the voices that seek change. As of now the campus is divided, and for us to unite once again we need to keep things like this in the light, not the dark, and look for solutions, not cover-ups.