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Dominique Stevenson-Pope

Title: An Apology Letter

By Dominique Stevenson-Pope

I believe the only good apology from someone is a genuine one and one that takes full accountability. I want to believe I’ve made whole-hearted apologies in my life, of which I take full accountability, but ultimately I can not be the judge of that. The apology is one for the person or group to accept, and if they do not accept it, then that is something the apologizer must accept on their end. I am stating this in the beginning so that the reader is aware that I recognize my apology might not be accepted. That is fine in my books, I know what I have done put a sour taste in people’s mouths, and made them think less of me to some degree. I can not and will not be the person that thinks just because I made one apology, that everyone will be fine with it.

I can not and will not be the person who only makes one apology as well. I will apologize as many times as needed and to whoever would like an apology. That, in my regards, is what makes an apology valid and truthful. We must always and continue to own up to our actions and remember that they can hurt people in later parts of their lives. Just because someone was ok with something, in the beginning, does not mean they will be ok with that same action in the future.

In my freshman year, I made a public statement to an MCLA Facebook page in regards to a protest occurring at the school.

The protest was in regards to the school administration and their inability to assist people of color at MCLA. The protest was also being held shortly after the 2016 election and referenced the Black Lives Matter movement as well. It consisted of flyers and balloons being hung from trees, poles, railings, and ceilings throughout the Campus Center, Bowman Hall, and the Quad. There was also a large banner hung from the banner railings in the campus center and stayed up there for the remainder of the year. Faculty support in this protest was recognized, but this was driven by students at MCLA.

In retrospect, the flyers and balloons were quite moving in the juxtaposition of the message. MCLA has failed to support students and faculty of color for decades. The campus police have wrongfully prosecuted students of color, invaded their personal spaces and property, and pushed the blame on them for years. These same actions are not seen with white students at the college or have been at a lower degree. Faculty of color have also faced many issues with the administration, and the representation of faculty of color at the school is extremely low. During my time at MCLA, the History and Political Science department consisted of two faculty of color and dropped down to one by my senior year. New faculty were hired, however, they were always white faculty members in charge of Black and African American History courses. Race, culture, and ethnicity were not the only issues MCLA has failed to assist and provide a strong support system to grow, but it is a huge area of neglect, given how much MCLA states they accept and promote these issues.

In the following years, and especially more recently, I have tried to understand why I would think this way or believed I was right at all. I have come up with a few theories, and know some root causes, but I also know I should have known better ultimately. I had grown up in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class, conservative society. Did my family raise me in this manner? No, my mother and family members tried their best to prevent this kind of thinking, but I still held on to it. I felt I needed to fit in and assimilate, rather than question those around me who carried bigoted beliefs. I was extremely white-washed at a young age, but this was my fault.

I knew that being whitewashed provided some form of protection at school and in public, but at home, and around people who looked like me and lived similar lifestyles, I was the outsider. I was educated on my culture, my background, and heritage, but never tried to join it. When I got to college, I followed suit with my mindset and stayed with the people who I made myself used to. Even while in classes discussing race and racial issues, I played devil's advocate, did not do my readings, and just looked like boo boo the fool all the time. I wasn’t helping myself or improving my knowledge, I just continued to dig a deeper hole each day.

Around Junior year, I met my friend Fatima, who shined a light on how bad it had gotten. I had the chance to live with her at my apartment, and we had long talks about this behavior I had exhibited. Although I was a history major, there were many areas that the MCLA history department failed to cover, instead, they chose to cover more eurocentric history.

This is something that has weighed heavily on me since freshman year and has caused me much stress. If there is a better route I should have taken, please tell me, and I will do that instead. I want to improve as a person and show change, but I want to make sure I am doing that correctly. I hope you have read this letter in its entirety, and if you are someone who remembers this post, my behaviors, or have thought of me in the manners I have stated here ( or other manners even), please reach out to me to let me know what you think if you feel comfortable. This was freshman year, people might have forgotten this, but I know I have not, and if someone has and it has altered their perception of me, I want to help fix that or show I have changed in any means they find suitable.

I thank you for your time and appreciate you for taking the time to read this letter.

My most sincere apologies,

Dominique Stevenson-Pope

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