“I’m Tired”: A Response to the Offensive Halloween Costumes

Jennifer Thompson ’20

Everyone wants a reaction to the recent Instagram post in which white Davidson students dressed as “thugged” out inmates.

Everyone wants the black students to react.

Everyone wants to hear why the costumes were wrong.

And everyone is waiting on the administration for a response, a punishment, something.

I attended the Student Government Association (SGA)’s and Common Ground’s “forum” on Wednesday, October 30th, night just to see what would happen. 

I wanted to see if this would be any different from the countless flag pole meetings held during the 2016-17 school year. 

While the flag pole meetings served as a space for community gatherings after a “tragic” event (an act of cultural terrorism), I often left feeling unsatisfied. 

I wanted to see if it would be any different from what I would consider “failed” protests in the past regarding policing, but most importantly to see if the lives of black students at this institution even mattered anymore. Or if they mattered in the first place.

Once again, here I am being asked what I think, and here I am telling you what I think.

I’m tired. 

I’m tired of walking on a campus that was built off the backs of someone’s ancestors without proper acknowledgment. 

I’m tired of looking over my shoulder at night because the truth is, I don’t feel safe here. Knowing that I can easily be criminalized for my dark skin that is not highlighted at night, as some of my friends have experienced, is not comforting. I’m tired of having to talk on behalf of the entire black race or the small population of black women on this campus in my majority-white classes. 

I’m tired of having to prepare freshmen for the emotional and psychological trauma they will face at an institution that is supposed to provide them with a safe space for growing. 

I’m tired of it all.

The SGA meeting was packed, but this doesn’t mean there was any real substance to the number of bodies that occupied that room. 

I applaud those black and brown students for once again stepping up, organizing, and executing a gathering where we could converse as adults about the real problems, not only with the costumes, but also our institution.

I’m indifferent to the tears of the lacrosse team and to their apologies. 

I think the situation is comical and distracting as this is not the first time cultural appropriation in the form of a Halloween costume has happened, and it won’t be the last. 

My parents pay for me to get a great education. I’m a senior. I’ve experienced cotton plants in front of Commons, neo-Nazis on campus, the death of a black protester in Charlotte, the election of the 45th president and the surprising amount of his supporters our campus has, the separation of the Africana department to which I belong, the lack of support for faculty of color (two of my own advisors) who have left the institution, protests that were meant to cause disruption but were actually controlled by the town police…just to name a few. 

I’m tired. And to say that I feel prepared to enter the world after I leave this college would be an understatement. 

I always jokingly say that Davidson prepares you for the real world in the worst ways possible, and I was once again reminded of this at the forum on Wednesday night. 

Jennifer Thompson ’20 is an Africana studies major from Atlanta, Georgia. Contact her at jethompson@davidson.edu.

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