It’s 9 p.m. on a Friday evening, and as I scroll through my Twitter feed, I see something that makes my heart drop. It’s a petition advocating for social justice, made by a UNC student — a student who has not only made me highly uncomfortable, but has objectified, stalked and harassed so many other women I know. I click on his tweet and I’m disappointed to find so many people who were aware of his inappropriate behavior engaging with his post.
Unfortunately, this occurrence was not isolated. In the past year at UNC, I’ve noticed an alarming trend.
As a community, we romanticize the notion of progress and the “politically correct” but fail to address how we might continue to excuse racism, misogyny and other systems of oppression in our personal lives. UNC students are obsessed with the idea of a perfect “social justice warrior,” and that is reflected in how we publicly present ourselves and who we publicly support.
We applaud and provide platforms to students who make the most basic, bare-minimum progressive statements, regardless of whether their words are a regurgitation of what marginalized students, particularly Black students, have already been expressing.
In turn, this has allowed a number of abusers, perpetrators and harassers into our progressive spaces, many of whom consciously manipulate the language of social advocacy to present themselves as “good” or “woke” people.