Things That Matter

Could The Cultivation Of Ethnic And Racial Minority Communities Yield Positive Outcomes For People Within Those Communities?

The human race is no stranger to segregation. In the United States, Jim Crow laws and “separate but equal” doctrine kept people racially separated for decades. In Germany, there were the Nuremberg Laws. In South Africa, Apartheid. Today, segregation in our country takes a different form—no longer supported by law, it is pervasive yet subtle, an intersectional issue rooted in gender, race, and socioeconomic status. While legally dividing people based on their differences is indisputably wrong, a complex question emerges: Could the cultivation of ethnic, religious, and racial minority communities actually yield positive outcomes for the people within those communities? Many signs point to yes.

On college campuses, this question underscores the phenomenon of “affinity housing”—spaces where minority students can live alongside peers who share important aspects of their identities.

credit: vassar.edu

The debate around affinity housing has spanned the past 50 years, beginning with active calls for change from students at numerous institutions in 1969 (Williams College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, to name a few). At Williams College, the discussion began when members of the Williams Afro-American Society occupied Hopkins Hall until the school president responded to a series of requests, including the development of a residence hall specifically for Black students. While that demand wasn’t met at the time—leading to a reemergence of the issue last year—students at Vassar and Wesleyan were more successful, resulting in Wesleyan’s “Malcolm X House” and Vassar’s “Kendrick House”—dorms specifically designated to Black students, which still exist today.

Now, in 2019, a wide number of colleges and universities offer affinity housing for a highly diverse spectrum of students, including women of color, Asians and Asian-Americans, Latinx populations, and LGBTQ groups. Proponents of affinity housing argue that these communal residences provide minority students with a sense of safety and security, especially at institutions with largely white student bodies. However, many people believe that affinity housing hearkens back to a darker epoch of American history, reviving segregationist tendencies that are fundamentally harmful to our progress as a society. Without a doubt, our country’s fraught past has definitely made the legal aspects of affinity housing a bit sticky.

According to the federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and family status. 

credit: calstatela.edu

So, if a university offers affinity housing for Black students, it could get in trouble if white or Asian students were explicitly prohibited from living there. To avoid this, colleges provide students with the choice to reside in these spaces, using careful language to define their role on campus—for example, California State University’s website describes its Halisi Scholars Living Learning Community as having been “designed to enhance the residential experience for students who are a part of or interested in issues regarding the Black community.” While it focuses on fostering a sense of community for Black students, the Halisi Scholars LLC is available to any student invested in issues of Black culture. Thus, as long as the option to join an affinity housing residence is inclusive to all, there is nothing illegal about it.

Although it can make affinity housing tricky to navigate, the Fair Housing Act protects folks all over the country. In certain states and cities, the protections expand even further to include factors like age, sexual orientation, marital status, gender, and citizenship status. Given the diversity of the U.S. population, these measures are absolutely essential to maintaining liberty and preserving our rights; yet history reveals that in spite of this legislation, marginalized communities are still most affected by housing discrimination, which perhaps points to affinity housing as a productive response to a long and unsavory trend.

Netflix’s “Dear White People” touches on the topic of affinity housing, illustrating the polemic nature of this issue through its characters’ divergent opinions. 

credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images

While some characters, like Coco Conners—a Black economics student who serves as treasurer for Winchester University’s Coalition of Racial Equality—do not support the new Armstrong-Parker dorm (a residence hall for students of color), several other characters find community there. Yvette Lee Bowser, executive producer of the series, describes this point in the show as a “renaissance” for the predominantly white, fictional Ivy League school.

“Everyone wants to have a sense of community, no matter what their cultural background is,” says Bowser. “That’s really what Armstrong-Parker is about—a built-in sense of community.” As a woman of color, Bowser attended Stanford University, which also offers affinity housing. She reiterates that the housing assignments at Winchester are not meant to segregate, but to do the very opposite: the Amstrong-Parker dorm is designed to maintain connectivity within students’ own, preexistent communities. “You don’t choose to go to a predominantly white institution only to be with black people,” she says. “You want the diverse experience, but you also want to feel those creature comforts and culture comforts.”

Olive Garden Manager Fired After Complying With Customer’s Racist Request

Things That Matter

Olive Garden Manager Fired After Complying With Customer’s Racist Request

@nypost / Twitter

Good o’l reliable Olive Garden, your favorite first date option as a broke highschooler, is getting the heat this week. After news broke that an occurrence of racism occurred at one of its Indiana establishments, patrons of the Italian-inspired franchise have tons of questions.

A manager at an Olive Garden in Evansville, Indiana complied to a racist request by a couple over the weekend, leaving a Black waitress in shock.

When a white couple chose to dine at the Olive Garden in Evansville, Indiana over the weekend, they requested they be served by a white person only. Instead of standing up for his employees and asking for the pair to leave, the manager complied with the request leaving a hostess and another customer to complain on Instagram.

Now the manager is out of a job.

The incident went viral after being shared by customer Maxwell Robbins  on Facebook.

I’m never going back to the Olive Garden in Evansville. A few white people come in a says that they refuse service from…

Posted by Maxwell Robbins on Sunday, March 1, 2020

According to Robbins the white guests refused service from a “colored” server and asked to speak to a manager.

“The manager without hesitation ensures that they will not receive service from a person of color. That couple should’ve been refused service for even asking something like that,” Robbins complained.

Soon after sharing his post, 16-year-old Amira Donahue, a black hostess who had been berated by the white couple also posted a complaint.

Racism is still prevalent in 2020! After years of experiencing micro aggressions and attitudes simply because of my…

Posted by Amira Donahue on Sunday, March 1, 2020

According to Newsweek, when one of the white customers asked for hot water and Amira brought it to the table, the customer requested “a server who wasn’t black. The couple then proceeded to talk about her to co-workers and claimed that she was not “family-friendly.” Amira went onto express her disappointment and hurt of not being backed by the restaurants management staff.

In response to the incident, Olive Garden conducted an investigation and issues a statement.

“We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company,” an Olive Garden spokesperson told TODAY in a statement.

Normani Finally Opens Up About Camila Cabello’s Text Calling Her The N-Word

Entertainment

Normani Finally Opens Up About Camila Cabello’s Text Calling Her The N-Word

normani / Instagram

When news first emerged of Camila Cabello’s racist remarks from the past, just about every Fifth Harmony fan was hurt.

Earlier last year, old Tumblr racist posts that had been created by Cabello resurfaced and made the rounds hurting fans and at least one of her group members.

The old Tumblr posts which had been shared by Cabello between 2012 and 2013 surfaced on Twitter and showed that she had used the N-Word and other derogatory language. She also was shown to have once mocked Rihanna for her 2009 physical assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown. Soon after the posts were released, the old Tumblr account had been deactivated and Cabello issued an apology stating she was “uneducated and ignorant” at the time of the posts and apologized for using “horrible and hurtful” language.

In once instance, a message between Camila Cabello and her good friend Marielle Guzman, reveals that the “Havana” singer called her own group member, Normani Hamilton, the N-word.

Cabello’s career started with the musical girl group Fifth Harmony, an all women’s lineup that had been touted and celebrated by its fans for its diversity and push for sisterhood. As the only Black singer in the group, Normani had already faced quite a bit of racial attacks from the bands fans and critics. In an article by The New York Times, published in 2016 just before Cabello left, the news outlet observed how “In fan enclaves across the web, a subset of Fifth Harmony followers called Ms. Kordei “Normonkey,” “coon,” and “nigger.” One said she “deserves to be lynched.” Another Photoshopped her face onto the body of a woman hanging from a tree.”

No doubt, Cabello’s comments were damaging but they also have put her former group member in physical harms way.

In a recent profile for Rolling Stone, Normani said that she had been “hurt” by Camila Cabello’s racist Tumblr posts and were made even more difficult by constant racial abuse from trolls.

“It would be dishonest if I said that this particular scenario didn’t hurt me,” the singer said in her interview with Rolling Stone. “It was devastating that this came from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven and a sisterhood because I knew that if the tables were turned I would defend each of them in a single heartbeat. It took days for her to acknowledge what I was dealing with online and then years for her to take responsibility for the offensive tweets that recently resurfaced. Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans.”