One student speaks up about homecoming t-shirts

by Shanice Whitney

America: “The land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”—well kind of. Yes, we’ve come a long way from where we were, but we still have a lot of work to do.

This was abruptly brought to my attention by the ugly two-headed dog: bigotry and prejudice, which reared its ugly head during the Miss America pageant and then to see t-shirts on my own campus, which read “Let Freedom Ring” on the front and “More American than the Dutch” on the back, made me a little sick. The pageant and the t-shirts had quite a bit in common—they put a definition on everyone’s favorite word, which has now become an idea all on its own: America. 

Here is why I disagree with the shirts. First off, the shirt is very distasteful in the sense that it has put a label on what is or what isn’t American and offers the idea that one has the ability to be more American than another; the shirt talks about freedom on the front and then proceeds to alienate an entire ethnicity of people on the back.

We have quite a few international students on campus, so what does this shirt say about them and their participation in this; and honestly, how would you feel as someone of Dutch descent walking down the street with no knowledge of this ridiculous rivalry between Simpson and Central and seeing this shirt?  

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I do not believe we can attach a color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender to being American and we should stop trying! We have become so hung up on trying to define that word that we often end up excluding those who don’t fit the “American mold.”

I was so surprised that this shirt even made it past the drawing board, that at first I didn’t want to believe it. I could not understand how within a group of people no one thought for a split second, before presenting the shirt that it may be offensive and then I thought about our history as a nation and the way things have always worked.

As a nation we have an extremely bad habit of ignoring the “small things” and passing them off as “no big deal” and ostracizing those who bring them to light and try to combat them. Yes, I get it; it’s just a t-shirt but, it is also discriminatory, exclusive, demeaning, derogatory and just plain wrong.

The day we decide as a nation that it is unacceptable to let seemingly “small” injustices in this country pass will be the day that I truly believe we can “Let Freedom Ring.” Until that time, we have the ability and more important the obligation to stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves, those who need someone to speak with them and those who have lost hope to speak at all.

By the way if you haven’t had a chance, check out the new shirts.