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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Student Body President Fires Back In The Face Of Racist Remarks

Martha Daniel |
September 21, 2015 | 6:56 p.m. PDT

ARN Executive Producer

Rini Sampath, right, pictured with USG Vice President Jordan Fowler. (Tiara Muhammad/Neon Tommy)
Rini Sampath, right, pictured with USG Vice President Jordan Fowler. (Tiara Muhammad/Neon Tommy)
The University of Southern California's student body was buzzing Monday after Undergraduate Student Government President Rini Sampath published a scathing Facebook post detailing an incident over the weekend when she had racist slurs hurled at her from inside one of USC's fraternity houses. 

Sampath's post, reprinted in full below, garnered nearly 6,000 likes and 800 shares within a day and a half. It also gained the attention of major media outlets, who have since shared Sampath's story nationwide.

"Last night, as I was walking back from my friend’s apartment, a student screamed out at me through the window of his fraternity house, “You Indian piece of shit!” before hurling his drink at my friends and me. Once his fraternity brothers realized it was me, they began to apologize. This stung even more. Today, as I try to unpack these events, I couldn’t quite figure out why their after-the-fact apologies deepened the wound. But one of my friends explained it to me the best this morning: "Because now you know, the first thing they see you as is subhuman.” And that’s the first thing some students on our campus see when they look at anyone who looks like me.

This was the same fraternity that kicked out a peer of mine from their tailgate after calling him a “fag.” That’s sickening.

I’m still in a state of shock. There’s an indescribable hollowness in me, but I’m going public with this because this can’t continue. Some people don’t believe racism like this can happen on our campus. Some people continue to doubt the need for safe spaces and the need for expanded cultural resource centers or the need for gender neutral bathrooms or the need for diversity in our curriculum or the need for diversity in our professors or the need for diversity in dialogue. And to those who continue to believe we’re just playing the “race” card, I ask you this — what’s there to win here? A sense of respect? A sense of humanity? A sense of love and compassion for others regardless of how they look like?

This isn’t an isolated incident. It happens everywhere. Last week, individuals in a pick-up truck yelled racial slurs at Mizzou’s Student Body President, Payton Head. Who knows what will happen to someone who looks like me today?

“You Indian piece of shit” is the type of language attackers have used before brutally murdering someone. Just look at Inderjit Singh Mukker. “You Indian piece of shit” are words used to humiliate someone for who they are. “You Indian piece of shit” continues to ring so loudly in my ears I still can’t shake it from me.

Whether racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia happens on the internet, or behind closed doors, or in a small group setting, or as "just a joke," it’s not okay. It’s never okay.

I was surrounded by nearly ten of my friends when this happened last night. I’m glad I was, because I don't know what I would have done if I was alone. They consoled me by telling me, “Whatever you do the next morning will be the right thing.”

Well, I really don’t know what to do. For now, this is my public plea. I don't know if what I have written here is enough, because there aren't enough words in the world to summarize the experiences of people who look like me and what they go through every, single day.

We lost a football game last night, SC. But I think there’s something bigger, much bigger that we’re losing here. And we have to get it back."

Reach ARN Executive Producer Martha Daniel here



 

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