Colgate University went on lockdown for four hours earlier this month after reports circulated of a gunman on campus. Those reports turned out to be false and the perceived “threat” was actually just a black student with a glue gun for an art project.
The school later issued a statement confirming it was all a “misunderstanding” but many students were left feeling outraged, saying that the police and school response were drastic overreactions to an incident they say stemmed from racial profiling.
In response, Jenny Lundt, a sophomore at the school, expressed anger over the situation on social media and called out the school administration’s actions in a Facebook post. In it, Lundt posted a picture of herself wielding a giant sword, which she wrote she keeps in her room, to make a point about how her white privilege played a central role in why she faced no repercussions after she” ran around” the campus holding the sword.
“THIS is what white privilege looks like,” she wrote in the caption under the photo, which has since been shared more than 16,000 times. “This is me, only one year ago on this very campus, running around the academic quad with a fucking sharp metal sword. People thought it was funny. People laughed- oh look at that harmless, ~ silly white girl ~ with a giant sword!!”
“If you think for even a second this wasn’t profiling, ask yourself why this sword is still in my room and has not ONCE made anyone uncomfortable,” she wrote. “No one has EVER called the police on me. Understand that there are larger forces at play than this one night, and this once instance of racism. This is engrained in our university and our larger society. White Colgate students, we need to do better. #blacklivesmatter.”
Yet while many commended Lundt’s efforts to call out racism, others maintained that it was her privilege that led to such a viral response to her post and that she inserted herself into a narrative that wasn’t hers to tell.
Lundt later added an update to the post to acknowledge these responses and apologized to “people of color seeing this,” saying “I am sorry that this post is taking up a lot of space. It was never my intention for it to be spread this vast, and I am sorry to those who could potentially feel silenced by the airtime this is getting.”
She continued: “This post is getting far more shares than I ever imagined. I just want to remind everyone viewing/sharing this that this narrative is not about me and my feelings. This story and the event that happened last week is about are people of color that are oppressed each and every day by this institution and this country at large and I in no way meant to take the conversation away from them and their stories... My privilege allowed me to share my story. My privilege and my influential friends and thus their influential friends made this post go ‘viral’. All of that is privilege at work.”
Because, after all, people of color are impacted by racism most and constantly do the necessary work and make crucial sacrifices to speak out against it ― despite not always being met with such widespread praise.