A want-ad for a new roommate spurred a passionate debate about racism, safe spaces, and what it's like to be a person of color in America this week at a small college in California. The Washington Post reports 20-year-old Pitzer College junior Karé Ureña posted on the Pitzer College Class of 2018 Facebook page looking for a roommate to live with her and two others in an off-campus house. The post specified they were looking for people of color only, according to the Claremont Independent. And Ureña, who is black, specified in a follow-up comment: "I don't want to live with any white folks." The post led to claims of discrimination, segregation, and reverse racism.
But Ureña and supporters fired back against those claims. "Seeking a living space that is all-POC is not only reasonable, but can be necessary,” she tells the Post. "Our people are being killed. Our housing arrangements are not racist. They are not exclusive. We are simply fighting to exist." The Independent quotes another student as saying: “We don’t want to have to tiptoe around fragile white feelings in a space where we just want to relax." Pitzer President Melvin Oliver, the first black president at a Claremont college, says Ureña's post and the comments that followed "are inconsistent with our mission and values," CBS News reports. Ureña has since deleted the post. (A study shows a 10-minute in-person chat could reduce prejudice.)