A colleague wanted data on how many students were here in 1971. We don’t have electronic records back that far, so I pulled the yearbook to count by hand. This undergrad in a double-breasted suit is now our college counsel
The photos show a lot of happy students doing happy student things. Homecoming, theatre, sports, classes. It’s remarkable how normal it seemed, considering the Vietnam War was happening
The other thing that jumps out is the lack of diversity. At a time when the US was 87% white, our graduating class of 1971 was 98% white. By today’s standards it’s immediately noticeable, page after page
It’s not a shock to say here or nearly any college in 1971 was predominantly white. What is interesting is that the yearbook also shows how integral students of color were to campus life then
Craig Nishiyama was the junior class VP, and javelin thrower
Mo Taylor would later become a VP @MorganStateU and a respected trustee of our college
Karen Mukai was VP of the student senate
And so on. I don’t know what stories they would tell about campus culture in 1971. I’m sure a lot is unflattering. My point is not to whitewash that but to think about what it means for who we are
In 1965, a few years before the yearbook, a group of students and professors joined the civil rights match in Selma. My friend @JHTuten says students were told they would have to reapply to the college if they left campus without permission
What does it mean? I think it’s that what @DrIbram said about America is true here: the racist and the antiracist have existed side by side. (The same issue of the campus newspaper also ran an article, “Is It True Apaches Have More Fun?”)
We have a history (and a present) that is racist, and a history (and a present) that is antiracist. I don’t know which side is winning. I have good days and bad days
But I think the traditions that emerged from our historically white identity contribute nothing essential to who we are, because there’s nothing distinctive about being the same as everyone else. I like mountain day but it’s nothing I can’t find somewhere else, in some version
It’s the moments of antiracism that are rare and special, and distinctive. I hope we lean into that. And I hope we learn to ignore the voices that insist we go back to the way we were—a way we never actually were

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with Matt Powell

Matt Powell Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!