Class of 2010
English, with minors in Health Policy and Administration, and Women's Studies
Penn State University Park
Nominated by Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor and Courtney Waters
As photos from the party started to circulate and voices of concern grew increasingly audible, Stephen Lucas knew that he should be the one to stand up and assume responsibility for the situation. It wasn't his fault that a white student had attended the Rainbow Roundtable Halloween party in blackface. He hadn't even been aware of the situation as it was happening. Still, his responsibility stemmed from the fact that, as President of the Rainbow Roundtable, he had dedicated himself to a leadership role in the often-marginalized LBGTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, and Allied) community. Seen from the perspective of Stephen's commitment to advocating for under-represented groups, the student's choice of costume was not simply in bad taste; it invoked the ugly specter of a period in our history when whites commonly used blackface as one of a host of tools for dehumanizing and marginalizing black communities. Although it was clearly not the intention of the student to do this, the incident served to remind Stephen that LGBTQA communities need to be just as reflective as any other about the role that white privilege and historically racist attitudes might play in shaping their practices.