Last week, a group of individuals released a series of videos parodying campus election campaigns. One video in particular, which depicts the candidate pandering to minority and marginalized communities for votes while grossly misrepresenting their identities, offended members of the very groups — including us — it purports to support.

We found the juxtaposition of claims of women’s rights with the objectification of women’s bodies disturbing. We found the gorilla in African garb disturbing. We found the taunting of the open and welcoming messages of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community disturbing. What is most disturbing, however, are the very material ways that sexism, racism and homophobia manifest at Penn, in Philadelphia, across the United States and in every corner of the world.

The existence of the video and the response of campus individuals to the video clearly indicate that the issues it presented are still sensitive and fragile. Instead of channeling our anger as an expression of offense, it may be more productive for us all to redirect our energies to the conversations that are not happening but are severely necessary. Let’s challenge the prevalence of street harassment and sexual assault. Let’s call for fewer black men in prisons and more with quality educations. Let’s move for an end to LGBT youth suicides.

How does this action start? The opportunities at Penn are endless. This week, how about attending Take Back the Night? Join your peers tonight at 6 p.m. on College Green as we rally and march to peacefully protest sexual violence.

Authors:

Meg Hlousek College junior, Chairwoman, Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women Joseph Lawless College junior, Vice President of Education and Advocacy, 1 in 4

Signatories:

Matt Amalfitano College senior, 2010-2011 Undergraduate Assembly President Maria Bellantoni College junior, Chairwoman, Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters Adrienne Edwards College sophomore, Vice Chairwoman of University Relations, PCUW Liat Fleming-Shemer College junior, President, Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention Anthony Francomacaro College junior, President, 1 in 4 Ali Huberlie College senior, Treasurer, UA Sasha Marie Lagombra Wharton sophomore, Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc., Vice Chairwoman, United Minorities Council G.J. Melendez-Torres Nursing and Wharton senior, former Chairman, United Minorities Council Melanie Philip College junior, Vice Chairwoman of Fundraising, PCUW Corinne Rich College junior, Chair, Lambda Alliance Nicky Singh College junior, Chairman, Asian Pacific Student Coalition

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