Power of Race Ed. Shown through ‘Got Guts’

By Malena Amusa Feb 27, 2007

When college students learn about America’s tumultuous history with race and have an awareness of its impact today today, they find it hard sitting on their butts and watching time cover old wounds. The last thing on their minds I’m sure is throwing racist hate parties and games like we’ve seen happen in recent months. “We want to push until we get every house gutted,” Emery Whalen, a sophomore at Princeton University, said on the other end of the phone. “I know that’s hundreds of thousands of homes, but I don’t see a reason for setting our standards any lower.” Right then, I stopped my frantic pen from scribbling. I was sincerely touched by Whalen’s resolve—to have every flooded house along the Katrina-ravaged Coast, still hording feet of water, gutted and cleaned in the hopes of restoration. I was even more moved to realize that the recent rash of anti-people-of-color events on campuses across America, can’t outrun students who want to see real progressive change. Last month, Whalen and a dozen other Princeton Students traveled to New Orleans under the guidance of Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who taught Disaster, Race and American Politics. Shortly afterwards, the students launched the Got Guts campaign that is challenging every elected official and every U.S. presidential candidate to gut a house—using their own hands on at least one home in New Orleans. Whalen hasn’t said who’s taken up the call to action. Hopefully, people will put more energy towards supporting groups like Got Guts who are, you know, actually doing something, while condemning the reactionary losers lashing out at diversity through their cowardly mockery of people of color.