Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to “Offend” People

Author: Nicole Commisso

This post refers to my most recent piece, “White Privilege: Injustice Does Not Fix Injustice“. This op-ed piece created such unexpected controversy on my college campus, in the towns surrounding my college, and on social media. With this controversy, one might say I have turned into “Public Enemy #1”. I have consistently said that I do not mind being disliked by my peers, and ones who have a differing opinion, as long as I spark a conversation and I get to stand up for what I believe is right, or not right. However, I want to make something very clear about my argument – I never claimed that racism does not exist. Furthermore, if you disagree with my views, I have every right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press (as you have every right to disagree with me) according to the First Amendment of the Constitution:

U.S. Constitution – First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First, I never said in my article that racism does not exist. I believe and I know that there are racist people in our society and that we should combat this racism together not by allowing ourselves to be divided by color. I do not however, believe that the way to fix racism is to try to make up for slavery, a terrible period that the left loves to use as a reason to push their white privilege propaganda. This is a false notion to punish white people of our generation for just that – being white. I would also like to add that, and by no means am I lessening the hardships they went through as a people, blacks were not the only ones that were slaves. All races and civilizations have practiced this wrongful act of slavery including the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Africans, Irish, Americans, etc. The history of slavery spans nearly every culture, nationality, and religion, it is not just limited to African-Americans, and slavery is still prominent today across the globe. Why don’t we ever speak about this? Why aren’t we outraged about human beings currently being bought and sold as slaves. Instead of trying to battle the real issues going on now, we sit here worrying about blaming young students that are categorized as white to try to make up for horrific instances we have no control over now.

Secondly, how can these individuals sit there and say that the term “white privilege” does not diminish a white person’s accomplishments if it states that what they have achieved was prominently easier for them because of their skin color? I need to know how that does not deplete their hard work? What I did say was that white privilege is reverse-racism, which yes, it is an actual term for those who think I made it up. By expressing that someone is privileged or judging that their life is simpler just due to their skin color is racist by definition. Those who say that reverse-racism “isn’t a thing” argue that it is impossible for individuals to be racist towards white people. News flash – they can be. I have been told I cannot and will never understand white privilege because of my “whiteness”. Isn’t it racist that I can’t understand something solely based on my skin color (even though it is a term targeted towards my race)? Oh wait, no it isn’t racist according to the left – since I am categorized as white and “superior”, I can’t possibly be stereotyped or prejudiced against. This is complete hypocrisy that I refuse to accept or even entertain. What I have been told is that the way to tackle white privilege is to accept that I have it. I don’t quite understand what this does for this so-called issue. I believe by accepting white privilege, I would be apologizing for the color of my skin which is something I have no control over and would never apologize for. I quote Martin Luther King Jr. who once said:

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

I strongly believe that implementing the term white privilege delays this day that Martin Luther King Jr. hoped and persevered for.

My op-ed piece on white privilege created not only controversy, but a freedom of speech issue. Many people said I shouldn’t have been able to publish my article in the student newspaper due to my opinion. Last time I checked this is America, where every American has the right to freedom of speech, the right that I demonstrated through my most recent piece on white privilege. I refuse to let society, and most importantly the administration, staff, and students at Siena College, force-feed me something that I don’t think is right. By writing my op-ed piece, which no one anticipated would receive the attention it did around campus, I expressed my view on a controversial topic. Even though I did get backlash from my piece, I also received an immense amount of support and appreciation for speaking on behalf of the silent majority whose views coincide with mine.  I do not feel as though I did anything wrong by sharing my opinion and if you disagree with my views, that sparks an important discussion. Having a different opinion than someone else is also another incredible right we have as Americans. If you break and crumble due to someone else’s opinion, how are you ever going to handle the real world? Take a moment and think of how boring this world would be if everyone agreed on everything. I am an American. I am a full believer and exerciser of the Constitution. I support freedom of speech. I support freedom of the press. I have a strong voice and I intend to use it.

 

 

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White Privilege: Injustice Does Not Fix Injustice

Author: Nicole Commisso

I am/have been lectured by today’s society that just because I am categorized as white, I must chalk up all my success and hard work to the notion that is “white privilege”. This notion that because of my skin color I do not have to work as hard as someone who is non-white is reverse racism in the highest order. If you are accusing someone of something, in this case being that a white individual is more privileged, due to nothing else but the color of their skin is the definition of racism. By societies standards, I am privileged in every which way due to my skin color and if I choose to disagree with this I am deemed as a racist or a bigot. No matter what I have faced, my family has been through, or how hard I have worked and what I have accomplished in my almost twenty years of life is diminished and taken away from me according to white privilege. The greatest privilege in this country, regardless of race, is having a standing household that has two providing parents. Studies have shown that a single mother, black or white, is more poverty-stricken than a household of two parents, again being whether they are black or white. This contradicts the notion that white individuals have this so-called major privilege over non-whites in the sense that a white single mother is in fact worse off than a household of two black parents who seemingly have such less privilege.

I bring this matter to attention because I am a white female and I have not been privileged in my life whatsoever. At a young age, my house was no longer one with two parents and my mom became a single mother, before this I was in no way born into the upper class as this notion usually makes successful whites out to be. The struggles we underwent as a family are indescribable and were none-the-less challenging being that my mother was a stay at home mom who hadn’t worked in fourteen years that now had to support my two younger siblings and I. Without recent job experience it was very difficult for her to find a job to put food on the table, keep the heat working, and barely pay for a roof over our head, while still taking care of the three of us all by herself. She wasn’t handed anything because she is white, there were no extensive privileges she had over anyone else because of the color of her skin as I never was either. She worked as hard as she could even though it was an extremely difficult thing to do because she had to for us and herself to survive. Not once did she feel sorry for herself and not do everything and anything she could to support our family.

I have chosen not to play the victim role, as many have with this term white privilege, I instead take full responsibility of my life and I have chosen to work hard and make the best life I can for myself and one day a possible family of my own. I choose not to blame anyone or anything for the battles I have undergone and fought but rather persevere and make something greater of myself instead of looking at the world with this “poor me” ideology because of what I have endured as a human being. I have worked for everything I have in my life –  I got a job as soon as I was of age to and have been working ever since, I was extremely driven in high school because I wanted to make a better life for myself and applied for countless scholarships (on which I received many which I rightfully deserved) in order to go to college to create the life I want, in which I have student loans that I will one day need to and will pay off. Some of us are born rich, some of us are born poor, some of us are born white, some of us are born black, etc. No one can choose what they are born or born into and if someone is born white to say that their successes and everything they have worked hard for is because of the color of their skin is in its own definition, racist.

Now, I am not going to deny that black people, or anyone that isn’t non-white, in the United States have suffered historical discrimination in the past but that does not mean that this is current in history right now. My own grandfather came here from Italy and was discriminated against when he first got here. He even had to change his first name because it wasn’t “American enough” but that does not mean he played the victim role or didn’t work as hard as he could for himself. I can assure you he has not experienced this white privilege even though he would be categorized as white. We should not be now trying to implement this false notion of white privilege to make non-whites feel better for instances that happened generations upon generations ago. You cannot “fix” where you started in life, this is beyond your control because, like I previously mentioned, it is physically impossible to choose which skin color you are born with. What you do have control in is personal responsibility, taking responsibility for yourself and your actions rather than claiming the victim and punishing white individuals for just that, being white. Injustice does not fix injustice in life and I refuse to allow society to tell me that I have gotten to where I am due to the color of my skin. I am where I am due to my successes which are not because I am white, they are because I have earned them with hard work, perseverance, and knowing exactly who I am and sticking up for that regardless of who tries to tear me down. As a white woman in today’s society, I can strongly say that I have not had or received this so-called “white privilege” that has been shoved down societies throats. It is insulting and unfair that in spite of what I have been through that I am supposedly privileged just because my skin color is white.