beyond the green: collective of middlebury voices

a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications

Nose Goes (and other things)

By Diku Rogers

Edited by Maya Doig-Acuña

It’s been a stressful semester. Like every Middlebury student, I am balancing school, life at home and extracurriculars. And let us not forget the other stresses of young adulthood—Am I turnin up too much? Should I or should I not hook up with that person? Am I making enough time for myself?

Then Preview days come. While I’m working on a late paper, practicing for my dance crew, organizing a semi-formal event, and trying not to let my financial burdens and familial hardships weigh me down, I am supposed to have a smile on my face. I am supposed to beam about everything Middlebury has to offer. During preview days, I am supposed to represent Middlebury. But how can I do this if Middlebury doesn’t represent me?

I walk into the dining hall at 5:30, thinking I’m slick for beating the 6 o’clock rush. But it’s preview days, so there’s a 5, 6, and 7 o’clock rush. I am happily overwhelmed by the number of black people I see on line and sprinkled around tables. Yaaaasssssss, I think. Middlebury put in work! Come to find out, these are juniors, who are visiting Middlebury to get a sense of what a small liberal arts school in a rural area feels like. So the fresh faces I see in Ross are not admitted students, but they potentially could be! I sit with some friends who are juniors at Midd, all people of color. They tell me they’ve been chatting with the high school juniors, who I find out, are from New York (mostly Harlem). At the moment they were all up getting some food or dessert. I sit down, take off my jacket, and ask, “How do they like it?”

“Within fifteen minutes they said Middlebury is too white and the food isn’t that good.”

“Damn.”

That was all I could say. Damn. Because within fifteen minutes, these students were able to pinpoint something that I am confronted with every day- the whiteness of Middlebury and the marginalization of minorities. These New Yorkers were jaded within fifteen minutes… and I’ve been here for almost two years. What is there to say about that?

As I look around the dining hall, I struggle internally- trying to figure out what I’d say to a prospie if they asked me the golden question, Do you like Middlebury?

In my class earlier that day, something had happened that made me hesitant to answer the golden question.

I’m sitting next to one of the four people of color in the class (myself included). I realize the other half of our table is empty. Not a big deal- it’s one of those classes people skip a lot, so I don’t think anything of it really. I scan the other tables in the room. An empty seat here or there, but it’s mostly a sea of baseball caps and blonde buns. The class has a majority of athletes, from both men’s and women’s teams. To be blunt, this class constantly reminds me of my “otherness” at Midd- my blackness, non-athleticism, and urban culture.

My professor asks for one student from a table of “bros” and one girl to move to my table to help me catch up on what I missed from Monday.

The boys at the table first volunteer the girl to go over. They then play Nose Goes. For those of you not familiar with the game, Nose Goes entails everyone in a group touching their nose to avoid doing a task. Whoever is the last person to touch their nose loses- and has to do whatever the group was avoiding in the first place.

This was not a discreet game of Nose Goes. The boys stopped and made it apparent that they did not want to sit with us. And the boy who lost, they made a joke of, saying, “We’re gonna send ______ over. He’s the smartest.”

To be honest, I didn’t need their help. I damn sure didn’t need their foolish game. Their disregard for their classmates’ feelings? Didn’t need it. Questioning myself the whole afternoon about whether that was a micro or macroagression, whether it involved race at all, whether I really gave a damn cause this type of shit happens all the time…didn’t need it. Did I need my professor to step in and reprimand those guys? I don’t know, because she didn’t say anything. The moment subsided while the class covered it with laughter.

So… how am I supposed to represent the Green Mountains and smiling faces of Middlebury when things like this happen to my peers and me on a regular basis?

How do I convince another student to come here when sometimes I’m not sure if I should have?

How do I tell a prospective student, “People are really nice here”, if something like this can happen in class and transport me back to elementary school (where immature shit like that is somewhat accepted, if not expected)?

“Within fifteen minutes they said Middlebury is too white and the food isn’t that good.”

“Damn.”

Should I tell prospies that Midd is “kind of” diverse and “working on it”, so that they come, bring more diversity, and hopefully not have to deal with all the bullshit those before them have been handed? Or do I tell them:

“You will struggle here”

“There’s not much diversity or support for that diversity”

“Go to the place giving you the most money, because on top of all the shit you deal with here, to have loans too…umph”

People of color and those with other marginalized identities at Middlebury are faced with the conflict of whether or not we should tell the truth, or what Middlebury wants us to say.

I don’t know what to say. I find myself in my own game of Nose Goes, letting other people tell the stories of how much “work” Middlebury needs to do. But I can’t tell who’s the loser in this situation.

 

Advertisements

Information

This entry was posted on April 21, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: