Once more, white people have provided the perfect example of abuse of privilege. The University of Hartford has been under fire this past week after a white freshman student bragged on Instagram about poisoning her black roommate. Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe decided to move out, and immediately after her roommate Brianna Rae Brochu took to Instagram to write a caption that said: “Finally did it yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 month of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie.” Because of this poisoning of her belongings, Rowe suffered a chronic sore throat for weeks that, at times, was so severe she could not speak. What. Fucking. Nerve.
Rowe reported the post to the campus police and wanted to press charges, but was told she couldn’t do so until the university finished their investigation. Rowe reported that the way the university handled the investigation was suspiciously slow. UHart officials released a statement calling Brochu’s action’s “reprehensible” and notifying the public of her expulsion. University President Greg Woodward, in a private meeting with Rowe, “reiterated my personal commitment to ensuring she has all available personal and academic resources the University can provide.” This statement offers reassurance to no one, let alone Rowe.
Once the West Hartford Police Department became involved in the case, Brochu was arrested and charged for second degree breach of peace and third degree criminal mischief, though the police chief is recommending an added charge of intimidation based on bigotry, as they should. Rowe, however, reported that the process seemed rushed, “as if they are speeding up her process and trying to get rid of the issue quickly and in secret”. Rowe posted an hour and a half Facebook video discussing the experience at length. The social media outcry, including the hashtag #JUSTICEFORJAZZY, was credited for Brochu receiving punishment at all.
Can you imagine being a young woman of color, already vulnerable while navigating the tempestuous waters of higher education, and getting poisoned by the person you live with? The toxicity of white privilege is what entitled Brochu to repeatedly harass her roommate and then brag about it on social media. She is most likely under the assumption that she, as a white person, would get away it; because, usually, white people do get away this shit. This is not ‘reprehensible’, this is a hate crime, and everyone should be able to tell the difference regardless of the color of their skin.
Graphic courtesy of David Giacomini