By: Haylei John
The “Bona Bubble” is a phrase often used with pride by students to describe feelings of community throughout the campus. I too used to think of the Bona Bubble as some fond description of life at Bona’s, but now I’m challenging this notion and hoping that others will as well.
Not all students find themselves within this so-called bubble, and not everyone is made to feel welcome within it either. Although I’ve been a student leader and have formed countless valuable relationships throughout my years at Bona’s, I’ve recently been forced to question my own place within the community.
I’ve heard and have been subjected to insensitive comments since the beginning of my freshman year when another student asked me how I dealt with all of the “wild Indians” in my hometown of Salamanca, NY. While I once was able to convince myself that such comments came from ignorance, I can no longer sit back and be so naïve.
After holding civil dialogues and countless conversations about race, racist comments and insensitive actions are still apparent within our community. The use of the headdress logo provokes controversy seemingly every year, and the voices of students and faculty of color are either ignored or satirized in response.
Portrayals of Native people as half-naked and drunken mascots continue to be viewed as the norm by many students. When other students and I have tried to explain why such portrayals are harmful, we have been met with taunting by other students. It has become clear to me that many are not ignorant with their comments and actions but are rather knowingly and purposefully being insensitive to the concerns of people within these cultures.
Too many people pride themselves on living in a bubble – a bubble that allows them to completely disregard the concerns and the culture of a population that is not even twenty minutes down the road from this campus.
Native people are not mascots, political talking points or marks of some tradition from the past. Native people are alive today with their own governments, healthcare systems, customs and culture.
It’s time to burst the “Bona Bubble” and acknowledge the concerns of students of color on this campus. We cannot pride ourselves in being exclusionary and blatantly mocking the voices of members of our communities.