{ The World, Magnified }

I've been at Oberlin for seven years. That's kind of a long time if you think about it, and I can not think of a better place to choose not once, but twice. I'm living in a place I love to be in, a mecca and nourishing incubator for the arts and sciences, filled with humans that make me think harder than I've ever thought before and love more deeply than I knew was possible.

From what I have described above, perhaps it sounds like Oberlin is a perfect place. The only thing that you must keep in mind is that Oberlin is a part of the world, and the world is not yet perfect. There is sadness and a lot of other things, even in a place like Oberlin.

Over the past week, our campus community has been entrenched in a terrible thing, something that goes against so many of the established morals of Obies. It is sad, it is shocking, it is infuriating, it is one of the worst things I have even witnessed and been struck by. Words have been shared, aiming at Obies of every identity and exploding every place they are dropped. Word shrapnel is the worst kind, because what our minds and bodies do with it is the same thing that happens to a tree when it goes through drought or fire and lives to see another year — it doesn't look like we will survive, but we do, with the internal reminder of what the past held.

The words have happened. They have hurt. They have cut us down and knocked us over with force unlike any punch ever thrown. It's moments like this that make us doubt humanity and each other. This is not something I ever want for myself, my family (blood or otherwise) or the rest of the world, but it has happened. Oberlin couldn't have such hurt, you may think. This is a place with an aura of calm, a history of progress. But Oberlin is a part of the rest of the world, which means that the world's problems are ours, too.

Where Oberlin begins to differ from the rest of the world that I have experienced is in the next steps: the moments when we recognize that we must be better humans and to overcome strife we must band together. We must speak up and speak out, to not only hear our voices heard but to hear them mingle with others and echo back at us. These are the proud moments. These are the moments when you know that Oberlin is a special place, a model for a world we wish to inhabit.

Do not consider this blog post a giant pin to pop your Oberlin bubble. Know that the actions of those who choose Oberlin are the same actions that must be magnified in the world at large, and that Obies settle for nothing less. When we are hit with intolerance, with disregard for our identities, our thoughts, and our families, we are not quiet. Here at Oberlin, we are developing (or perhaps more accurately, honing) ourselves into the human beings that help change things: the ones who pick themselves up by bootstraps to stand taller, who speak up when voices need to be heard, and who can point at each scar accumulated along the way to proudly share the past as we move into the future.

[Edit 4:10pm on 2.15.13: Two commenters have asked for some clarification of the words used and how: hate speech appeared in written form on campus, on posters for Black History Month programming and in note form found in professors' mailboxes and in the Multicultural Resource Center, all within the past week.]

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{ Responses To This Entry }

As well-spoken as the author is, this post does little to inform the reader of its subject matter, and comes off as unnecessarily dramatic or grandiloquent. However bad "the Words" were (and I do not doubt they were bad) the reader is left wanting context for this clearly heartfelt statement.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 15, 2013 1:27 PM

Hey Anon - Context is incredibly important, in this situation and in others, but this post is more a statement about how Obies deal with less than ideal world situations, knowing that the constant here is that we are working to make it better.

I wish I could say that this week is the only week that Obies are dealing with serious things, but in seven years, I've seen it happen in different forms and fashions — not regularly, but it's an ongoing thing that Obies fight for what's right. Obies have stood up for generations to stand together for a the world needs improvement. Heck, my dad marched in Tappan Square in 1967, perhaps even among the same path in the picture above. That's our history of progress, in which the actions of this week fit into our timeline forward.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on February 15, 2013 1:38 PM

I agree with Anon, Ma'ayan. I have no idea what you're talking about! A little more context as to what "the words" were or how they were used would be helpful to relate it to the bigger picture.

Posted by: Darín on February 15, 2013 4:04 PM

Darin and Anon (and to any other readers visiting now) - a bit of clarification has been added to the above text.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on February 15, 2013 4:16 PM

Ma'ayan: Just state what you are talking about plainly. No idea should be so feared that it cannot be discussed. Without giving outside readers context, whatever happens in the Oberlin bubble stays in the bubble – furthering the paradigm you're trying to dismantle.

Posted by: Matthew on February 15, 2013 4:19 PM

Hi Matthew - As you'll note in my previous comment, I added a point of clarification to my post above. Everything this week is hitting very close to home, since Oberlin is my home and the people here are my family. In writing this post today I was trying to think much bigger about how this week has been in the context of Oberlin's greater history of progress, and hoped that it could stand on its own. Apparently I am a little too close to the story for that to happen effectively right now, hence my addition of a clarification.

Thanks for your comment.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on February 15, 2013 4:24 PM

Posted by: Anonymous on February 18, 2013 1:31 PM

Thanks for the resources, Anon! The Review articles weren't published when I posted this; they're an excellent complement to this post to provide more context.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on February 18, 2013 1:39 PM

Posted by: Anon on February 19, 2013 1:14 PM

Posted by: Anonymous on February 25, 2013 9:21 AM

I've got what some might call an accompanying piece that I think this one maybe expresses what many people think Ma'ayan's post is intending to express.

Please, have a read, and comment if you feel so moved:


Posted by: Reshard el-Shair on March 27, 2013 5:39 PM

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