A group of Latina students at a ritzy private college in Southern California recently covered the exterior wall of a residence hall with a large graffiti-style message declaring: “White Girl, Take OFF your hoops!!!”
The scene of the spray-paint fracas is Pitzer College, reports the Claremont Independent, a student newspaper.
Pitzer, a member of the five-school Claremont Consortium, charges $66,192 for a single year of tuition, fees and room and board.
The word “hoops” in the ultimatum from the Latina students refers to hoop earrings.
The dormitory wall where the message appeared is specifically dedicated to unconstrained free speech by students.
Some students on campus were puzzled by the message when it first appeared.
Alegria Martinez, a resident assistant at Pitzer and an active member of the school’s Latinx Student Union then claimed credit for the message by emailing a rambling, race-based fashion manifesto to all 1,062 Pitzer students :
“[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture. The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion. The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives. Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges. Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.”
Martinez’s Facebook likes include Seventeen Magazine, Netflix, Socialist Alternative DMV, Wikileaks, Eyeliner Addict and, of course, Vox.
Here is Martinez, a junior, proudly showing off her message warning white women to remove their circle-shaped earrings:
Another student who took credit for the giant anti-hoop earrings message, sophomore Jacquelyn Aguilera, also emailed every student at Pitzer.
“If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops,” Martinez wrote in an impressive run-on sentence. “I use ‘those’ instead of ‘your’ because hoops were never ‘yours’ to begin with.”
Pitzer has seen similar spats in past years.
Last year, a student senator at Pitzer sent an email to the entire campus denouncing a mural showing a handgun with flowers coming out of the barrel because, the student complained, the mural “is emotionally triggering” and reminded him of “how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality.” (RELATED: Student At Absurdly Expensive College: Mural Of Flower Gun Is ‘EMOTIONALLY TRIGGERING’)
“My Black Mental and Emotional Health Matters,” the student, Gregory Ochiagha wrote, showing true expertise in capitalization. “I shouldn’t be reminded every time I leave my dorm room of how easy my life can be taken away, or how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality.”
In 2015, the student senate at Pitzer flatly rejected a student’s proposal to establish a campus yachting club due to concerns that the name of the yacht club is “exclusive” — and “luxurious” and “classist,” and fails to support “queer and trans people of color.” (RELATED: Private College Rejects Proposed Yacht Club As Too ‘Exclusive’)