Letter to the Editor: In response to Sundaram's hateful words

By Kaelyn Holguin | April 17, 2018 5:29pm
Pictured is Kaelyn Holguin (left) with her family. Photo by Kristen East.

Like many current students, staff, parents of students and alumni, I was shocked and horrified as I read Olivia' Sanchez' brave and heart-wrenching op-ed describing the so-called entertainment of Goutham Sundaram. As I read her description of his hateful words, I felt the bitter taste of having those words also said about me, as my husband is Mexican. 

I have heard people tell my husband that he got "so lucky" that he landed a white girl. Some family members have asked him how he was able to land a white girl like me. This is both an insult to my husband and to me at the same time. My husband doesn't love me because I am white and to say that he is lucky to have gotten a white girl implies that I am better a better "prize" than a woman of color and also better than my husband. This idea openly endorses the idea that there is something inherently better about being white, an idea that must be stopped now.

Goutham Sundaram made these statements in an attempt at humor, but his words sting and ring true for many women. This is underscored further by Goutham Sundaram's so-called apology. He says "I would like to apologize if I made any people uncomfortable,” which once again blames the victim. He claims the problem is that people feel uncomfortable, without acknowledging that they feel uncomfortable because he glorified white woman as sexual objects. 

He completely misses the point and that this was accepted as an apology at all is further proof that the administration is not taking this seriously. I have a biracial son. I want to tell him how I am proud to be a Pilot, I of course even dream of him possibly attending the University of Portland one day. But for that dream to come true, the University needs to stand up and acknowledge that his words were reprehensible and that their response to this event, even if it has been only a few days, is unacceptable. 

We need to change the narrative and acknowledge that putting white girls on a pedestal is dangerous for everyone involved and not acceptable in today's society, let alone at a public event at a Catholic campus.

Kaelyn Holguin is a 2012 UP alum. She can be reached at keast915@gmail.com.