The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Rebel Wilson, known to many as “Fat Amy” from the popular film “Pitch Perfect,” took the stage during MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday night to announce the winner of the Best Hip Hop video.

Wilson chose to introduce the award with a skit that alluded to police brutality. In case you missed it, here’s a highlight:

“A lot of people have problems with the police, but I really hate police strippers. They come to your house. You think you’re getting arrested and you just get a lap dance that is usually uninspired,” she said.

She thought it was acceptable to make that joke because of her status as a well-known comedian. If she didn’t believe it, she wouldn’t have done it.

Wilson delegitimized the grievances of not just the African-American community, but also any person who has been affected by police brutality.

Wilson’s jabs were aired on national television, but these situations occur on a daily basis. In most cases, they occur when the perpetrator is not a member of the community they are addressing or referring to.

In fact, it happened on our campus earlier this week.

On Monday, The Daily Tar Heel published Jaslina Paintal’s column titled “Apathy kills Black women.” In it, she discusses the invisibility of women of color on campus.

Charles Garrison Duckett, Secretary of UNC’s Board of Trustees, responded to Paintal’s column via email.

In it, Duckett wrote that the column was “weak,” “choked full of hyperbole,” and accused her of manufacturing her claims for effect. With no authority except for his role within the UNC Board of Trustees, he attacked a young woman’s work and opinion.

As a white, heterosexual male he does not have the knowledge or authority to speak on the impact of campus policies and incidents on students — specifically students of color.

I identify as an African-American, a woman and an African-American woman. Each of those identities carry pressure that I must deal with.

Each one comes with implications, stereotypes and inequalities that have shaped who I am as a person and how I view the world.

I’ve trained myself to walk fast enough to not be a target, but slow enough to avoid suspicion — lessening the chances that my “African-American” and “female” identities become a burden simultaneously.

This is not a representation of Duckett’s intelligence, accomplishments or experience. It is the fact that he cannot understand this or the impact it has.

There is no possible way he could understand myself or Jaslina Paintal.

Let me be clear, this situation does not exclusively occur between whites and people of color. It can happen to any individual whose audience is not empathetic to their emotions or experiences.

Holding a title or fulfilling a role is no excuse to belittle the trials of an individual or community — on a stage, engaging in social media or in private.

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