I have a Confession, too: I wrote that Hegemonocle article

I wasn’t going to write this. Actually, the week before we released the latest Hegemonocle issue with the formal apology for “Macalester Students Crave More Diversity in Bed” I admitted to one of the editors that I had thought many times to write an apology myself, but had decided against it for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Macalester is tiny; before long I will have contact with a significant portion of its population, so I wanted Macalester to have the chance to get to know me better before self-branding myself as the school’s resident racist. I also really liked that my article was generating so much discussion, and I wanted to leave it open to criticism. I wanted to leave its true intents up in the air, so I never planned on providing further context for it. I enjoyed eavesdropping on conversations with different perspectives on it and didn’t want those conversations to stop by issuing an explanation. I had this vain, romantic idea of revealing myself as the mystery author a few years down the line.

That was all stupid. The people whose feelings I hurt are a part of this year’s student body, some may not be here next year, instead there will be an entire new class of students next year who are not a part of this, and the longer I wait the less this will mean. This is the year I need to write this. It was in fact, Jonathan McJunkin’s OpEd on political correctness a couple weeks ago [“I have a confession: I like political correctness and you should too;” March 29, 2013 issue] that clarified and solidified this urgency for me. There is a reason why Hegemonocle pieces don’t have the real author’s name underneath the title, and it actually isn’t to deflect personal attacks. We have a philosophy of collective responsibility, because every single piece is work-shopped at our meetings where everyone contributes ideas and feedback to make the best possible humor writing. Then we all take credit for all the pieces. Everyone at the Hege is so kind, and I’ve been reminded not to feel personally responsible for the effects of my article, because everyone present had contributed and it was ultimately the editors’ decision to publish it. While I appreciate their solidarity, I feel like the anonymity (a policy I wasn’t aware of when I wrote the piece; I had the full intention of having my name associated with it) has allowed me to reap the benefits of a system that’s given me a luxury other panned articles like Hannah Zeeb’s “First-year, first critiques” [October 12, 2012] didn’t have. But I never intended on hiding behind my org, and am no longer going to. Nor am I going to post an anonymous confession on a social network. I’d rather everyone use the word “racist” to describe me than have to use the word “coward” to describe myself.

If there’s truly any doubt over the sincerity of the Hegemonocle’s apology as expressed by a Mac Confessions post a few weeks ago, I suppose there’s not much I can say that can alleviate that doubt. So instead, I will elect to share a bit of myself and that context I so stubbornly wished to withhold from Macalester. I come from an immigrant family, from a town of immigrants from all over the globe. My high school had students from almost one hundred countries with each of the flags of our home countries hung from the ceiling in the entrance to the school, resemblant of Café Mac. I loved it. I loved learning from my peers and being in the presence of so many perspectives. And I wanted to go to a college as just as diverse and international. Naturally, I found Macalester. I knew coming in to a liberal arts college of course that I would be in an environment much less diverse than what I was accustomed to, but knowing the facts and experiencing the reality are completely disparate concepts. I wrote the Hege piece in September. It was the peak of post-orientation first-year giddiness: my classes were interesting, my floor was super tight, food at Café Mac still tasted delicious. I hadn’t had nearly enough time to become familiarized with Mac culture at all, too-PC or not. So I wrote with the same immature race humor of my Texas upbringing.

My article was never meant to be such a scathing satire. My observation of the lack of domestic diversity on campus was merely that—a superficial observation, without any forethought about its possible implications. (In fact, it wasn’t just superficial, it was pretty heteronormative too, since I pretty much implied that our girls were only interested in male partners.) I’ve been at Macalester for almost a year now, and have familiarized myself with the politically conscious atmosphere and the buzzword rhetoric and have spent much time reflecting on how I feel about all of it. My thoughts on our allegedly too-politically correct culture lie somewhere on the spectrum, but I won’t expand on that today.

I never quite supported affirmative action before I came to Macalester. In my high school most of us believed that our token white classmates deserved the same chances as the rest of us during college admissions, and that we didn’t want our race to be looked at as a commodity to pad a college’s statistics with. We all somehow had bought into the myth of meritocracy. I arrogantly thought that the primary reason I was here at a luxurious liberal arts college and so many of my peers from back home weren’t was because I was more ambitious. I also thought the role of a college humor magazine was to serve as the school’s designated assholes.

I was wrong about all of that. Ever since I wrote the Hege piece, I’ve had time to truly think about diversity on our campus in a more critical manner than my initial perceptions. The longer I am here, the more I’ve been realizing there are deep reasons why my high school peers and so many other talented, intelligent students of color are not on this campus—none of which have to do with lack of ambition. The asshole question is a little bit harder. My peeps on the Hegemonocle are anything but. It’s so easy to characterize an org with a singular personality, but we forget that our orgs are made up of Macalester students and therefore share many of the same attributes as other Macalester students. Jon Gershberg and Alex Juffer have been the most thoughtful of editors, and I will miss them dearly next year, but I have confidence in the new leadership because all of our members are as conscientious and sympathetic as most of our student body. Where the difficult part comes in is that I am no longer sure of the place of a humor magazine. Humor is the way I express myself. While I certainly would never want our writers to become any less conscientious and sympathetic, I still believe in race humor and I have been struggling to find that balance.

I don’t plan on forgetting my roots, but I truly want to write with the sensitivity and consideration that is characteristic of so many Macalester students I admire. I also want to work towards the issue I originally wrote about because it’s something I’m passionate about. I think now that perhaps the reason I chose it as the subject of my very first article was that it had been bothering me before I was even aware, and I chose to externalize it in the only way I knew how—perverse laughter. Next academic year, I will be volunteering for the Department of Multicultural Life and living in the Cultural House, trying to dedicate as much of my time as I can to dialogue about uncomfortable topics on campus. I’ve realized the difference between how diversity was treated in my high school and how diversity is treated at Mac is that my high school deals with diversity because it has to, while Macalester wants diversity to deal with. While some may criticize that as inauthentic, I think it is something worth value. I loved being a part of diverse community. Now I am ready and honored to help diversify a community that is less so, but genuinely wants to be.

Lastly, I want and need to apologize to every person I hurt with my article. I never intended to hurt or ostracize anyone, but I did and I am sorry. I’m aware that it may seem a little too late, but I hope you can recognize that my apology would have been less sincere had I not taken all this time to reflect on the consequences of my actions. Had I immediately apologized back in December when the BLAC’s critique came out, it would’ve been mostly a gut reaction to offending people, but now it is something I feel from the bottom of my heart. I am willing to talk more about it with anyone who wishes to share their grievances, and I urge the rest of campus to do the same. Let’s talk, Macalester. Not through a social network, but face-to-face, so that the next time you are calling someone a racist, you are looking them in the eye. I know everyone’s tired of the same old topics, but these issues will not and should not disappear until they are someday resolved. So let’s talk about race, and privilege and class and all of those uncomfortable, tedious things until we finally reach that place where we can all laugh.