Challenging Activate

Dear Activate,

It’s me, again.

I’m not uninformed. I’ve read everything you’ve put out there and I’ve been to your info meetings. I know what you’re trying to do and how you’re trying to do it, and I do not agree. As a student of color, I do not agree.

Recently, I posted a letter to Activate on my blog and the only response I received was from those who agreed with me and those who, in my opinion, didn’t really understand what I was trying to say. For those of you who didn’t get to read it, my letter was about feeling misrepresented and how we at APU can do a better job of lovingly educating other people in a way that challenges the ideas of Activate.

I wrote this blog because I felt that Activate needed to hear it. I didn’t just write to criticize or demean, and I’m sorry if I did. But, above all, I wrote it because I felt shamed along with my white friends. I felt shamed because I felt like if I didn’t go along with Activate, I was being racist toward minorities as a minority myself. It was either join Activate or be racist and I was not going to tolerate either, so I decided to speak up.

I am not a victim and I refuse to let anyone else make me one. Only I can validate my own experience, and I definitely don’t need anyone else to do it for me.

I don’t deny the cultural ignorance here at APU, and I don’t deny that it can be pretty hard sometimes, but I believe that you, in Activate, are going about solving this problem the wrong way.

At the info night on Feb. 18, I asked this question: What do you plan to do with the $60,000 you’re demanding from the university? Be detailed and specific. The president of Latin American Student Association said that it would be used to provide better retreats, help pay for annual high school conferences and fund whatever else comes up. He was not able to be detailed and specific because the club has never had that amount of money in funding and its leaders do not have the imagination to dream up what they will do.

I’m sorry, but in the real world that would not fly. You would not receive any money without a detailed budget as to where it will be spent. You cannot demand from the university if you do not have concrete plans. The question still stands as to whether you should be demanding from the university at all.

The Alpha program was also called into question by the president of LASA. He asked why the Bridges retreat was given so much funding. As an Alpha leader, I was slightly offended at this. This program reaches almost every single undergraduate student that walks onto this campus. Bridges is not only a retreat, it also is service. Students do not go on this retreat for the sole purpose of fun; they go to serve.

Your club is not comparable to the Alpha program, so do not try. It’s not fair to you. You’re asking for more money than you know what to do with, and you’re asking for more money than any other clubs on campus. If each of your clubs receives $15,000, then I think it’s only fair that every other club receives the same amount, right?

Please recognize that despite your well-meaning intentions, white students feel shamed and unwelcome in the movement. You want them to recognize their privilege, but recognize your own. We go to a private university, which is a privilege. You are able to speak up about your situation, which is a privilege. We all have a certain amount of privilege as educated Americans, and it has nothing to do with the color of our skin.

So, again, I implore you to be patient. Be vocal, but don’t push others out of power only to put yourselves at the top. This is not a power struggle. It’s a struggle to have other people understand us. If you want a good picture of how to go about it, look to International Chapel. Those people have got it down pretty well.

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