The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

A piece on The Daily Tar Heel’s Pit Talk blog was offensive to me in several ways:

First, as a person who strives to promote social justice, I found the use of stereotypes for comedic effect offensive.

Second, as a member of minority group, seeing any person or group being marginalized through use of stereotypes upsets me.

Last, as a person who has family members and friends who identify as gay, it hurt knowing someone thought it was acceptable to publish something of that nature.

In my opinion, the blog was nothing more than published bullying. defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”

The only reservation I have with this definition is bullying can occur among young adults, college students and adults as well. Bullying isn’t always laced with four-letter words or physical blows. Minimizing a culture to a few vague characteristics is bullying as well.

While, to a certain extent, I’m sure addressing stereotypes is a form of reclamation, it does not eliminate the offense the piece had. Just because the author is gay doesn’t make it appropriate. Reclamation has repercussions that must be considered. It’s not a matter of censorship — it’s a matter of consideration.

Joking about stereotypes, even with harmless intentions, can have a detrimental impact on a person — it has on me.

There’s one encounter I remember in particular. I was in seventh grade on a school field trip, we were sitting on the bus on our way back to school, and a boy, nice enough, asked me, “Are you mixed?”

I laughed, assuming that he perceived my skin color, and said, “No, why?” His answer was, “Because you act white.”

Then, for a Black girl with little exposure to mainstream media aside from Disney Channel, I struggled with my identity as a Black woman.

Having a fellow student question my race, a crucial part of my identity, because of his limited exposure to Black women was difficult. Especially considering I was already dealing with how to navigate both simultaneously.

I can understand why my classmate thought it was okay. Compartmentalization is easy.

It can be tiring dealing with a plethora of personalities and backgrounds, especially on a college campus. So, compartmentalizing other groups by using stereotypes helps to comprehend and navigate environments. However, all stereotypes are harmful, regardless of how simple they may seem. And I can’t help but wonder how different the reaction would have been if the blog were about what sorority members or Black women are doing in the bathroom.

I’m grateful that a campus like UNC provides so many outlets and organizations that strive to promote social justice and equality. As students, we are charged with the task of provoking change. I can appreciate the efforts to humor The Daily Tar Heel’s readers, but I cannot support minimizing an entire community as a means to an end.

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