Trigger warning: slavery and racism. This is fictional.
Several Grinnell administrators learned that many of their White Anglo-Saxon Protestant students had voluntarily “enslaved” themselves due to excessive amounts white guilt. John Baker ’18 had begun his first year of college in a triple with two other students, a Native America student and an Indian student. According to John’s girlfriend of two days, John had been raised in very waspy city, in a very waspy county, in a very waspy state, and since a young age had been taught to accept responsibility for most of the world’s atrocities and feel really bad about them.
“White Protestant males have held most of this world’s power for the latter half of this millennium,” said Baker. “But we have royally goofed it up. My grandfather had the skin color and the religion that allowed him the privileges and respect to hypothetically take a stance against institutionalized racism, but he didn’t. He was content to simply sit back and sip his eggnog as the elites of society continued their imperialist agenda. As a result, it is only fitting that I ‘renounce my freedom’ and become a ‘slave’ to my brown roommates in order to ‘absolve’ my grandfather’s sins.”
When one of John’s roommates was asked what he thought about the entire situation, he explained, “[John] has issues, but hey, I’m not complaining. My backpack gets really heavy sometimes.”
John’s other roommate added, “I don’t know why he is taking this whole thing so seriously, like he really doesn’t have to try to ‘make things even’ with me. What does that even mean? It makes me feel pitied and that is really weird. Plus I’m pretty sure ‘making things even’ isn’t possible.”
When John was told of his roommate’s responses he simply answered, “They don’t understand. I am my great-grandfather’s sins. Me and him, we are basically the same person. But I am going to take a stand. I am not like the other white people!”
Since the initial “self-enslavement” of John Baker, dozens of other self-identifying WASPs and white students have followed suit, offering “complete surrender” of their “free will” on the conditions that they be fed, have their basic hygiene taken care of, and be allowed to watch some Netflix at night and browse Facebook a bit. Arguments have been made that these “self-enslaved” students are benefiting from, as always, immense amounts of white-privilege, even in their so-called “self-enslavement.” “Self-enslaved” WASPs and whites have no comment concerning these reports. They have, however, been reported as bragging about their “self-enslavement.”
“I heard one of these WASPs go up to his other white friend and tell him that he was a more ‘chill’ dude now,” one of John’s roommates reported. “He bragged that he was ‘totally evening the score’ for the whole getting into a good college based on family legacy, being part of gentrification, never having your culture co-opted, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, genocide, the prison industrial-complex, police brutality and murder, thing*.’”
This issue presents a real dilemma for Grinnell, which was founded as an Abolitionist college. Having students proudly “enslaving” themselves is a phenomenon no college wants to be a part of, but several key Grinnell administrators say that this is actually “a step in the right direction.”
“This is amazing, this is history in the making,” said one administrator who loves boring clichés, as she explained how natural it was for Grinnell WASPs and whites to “self-enslave.”
“While before, we had a gay Black president, sure, but this is really the ultimate white-liberal move. We are so happy to finally take action and once and for all prove that Grinnell College is the most aware of white privilege, like way more than Oberlin. ”
Paula Deen was among the first on the scene decrying the College’s actions, asserting that even if people are “just joking” about WASP “self-enslavement,” it is really just not funny. Even famous “rap” artist Iggy Azalea took notice, saying that, “I usually try not to think about or say the word ‘race,’ but what these students are doing is definitely racist. I am extremely sure of this.”
South Campus is also up in arms. Senator Jake Rose ’16 is urging South Campus to secede from North Campus, where residents have maintained the belief that white people should not become so caught up in their white guilt that they literally cannot speak about race without repeatedly apologizing and sobbing.
Chrysanthemum Moon-Sky, Dean of Spiritual Life, would like all Grinnellian WASPs and white people alike currently struggling with white guilt to know that there are counseling services and support groups available for them during this process of realization that they are indeed immensely privileged suckers. She would like to extend a special helping hand to white Grinnellians who identify as male, straight, and able-bodied, as this crushing realization may be especially upsetting for them.
*in no way is this an extensive list.