Karé Ureña is a student at Pitzer, one of five colleges in the prestigious Claremont Consortium located outside of Los Angeles. Earlier this week, Ureña made a roommate request some saw as reasonable and others saw as blatantly discriminatory.
On Facebook, Ureña wrote that she wanted “POC [people of color] only” as roommates. “I don’t want to live with any white folks,” she wrote, according to the Claremont Independent.
Her request led to a huge conversation about the validity of so-called "reverse racism" claims, and the legitimacy of being a person of color who doesn't want to live with white people.
As one can imagine, the debates have been heated. Here's one post, courtesy of the Claremont Independent:
“White people always mad when they don’t feel included but at the end of the day y’all are damaging asf [as f*ck] and if a POC feels they need to protect themselves from that toxic environment THEY CAN! Quick to try to jump on a POC but you won’t call your friends out when they’re being racist asf,” noted Terriyonna Smith (PZ ’18), an Africana Studies major and Resident Assistant (RA) for the 2016-2017 year. “I’m not responding to NO comments and NOPE I don’t wanna have a dialogue.”
Dalia Zada (PZ ’18) expressed concerns to the anti-white discrimination. “‘POC only?’ Maybe I’m missing something or misunderstanding your post, but how is that not a racist thing to say?”
For further clarity, the Washington Post reached out to Ureña and her roommate, Sajo Jefferson. In a letter to the paper, the two wrote, “We live in a world where the living circumstances of POC are grounded in racist social structures that we can not opt out of. These conditions threaten the minds, bodies and souls of people of color both within and without the realms of higher education. We are fighting to exist.”
Melvin Oliver, the president of Pitzer, spoke out against Ureña and Jefferson in a statement posted to the school's website. "While Pitzer is a community of individuals passionately engaged in establishing intracultural safe spaces for marginalized groups, the Facebook post and several subsequent comments are inconsistent with our Mission and values," he wrote. "This is but another example to us that social media is not an effective platform to engage in complex dialog on seemingly intractable critical issues that have varied histories and contested understandings."
Fusion has reached out to Ureña and Jefferson for comment.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.