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Just Call it “The Shell”

Jaryn Blackshear-Bryan, Contributor

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I have no idea where the phrase “Shady Shell” came from, but the phrase has reached the point where it effortlessly rolls off the tongue for many of us. Most of the time when it is used, its nature is not questioned and, though we assume it to be harmless and innocent, the reality of the phrase is oppressive.

There is nothing shady about the Shell gas station at 35 South Grand, including the people that work there and patronize it. The gas station is, ironically, fairly welllit contrary to its nickname. When you say the phrase “Shady Shell,” you insinuate that the people that work, shop, or hang around there have something intrinsically shady about them. It’s no coincidence that most of these people aforementioned are people of color. It’s almost satirical how quickly the communities surrounding our bubble are dubbed as shady when it was SLU that disrupted these communities in the first place. The phrase “Shady Shell” is rooted in several forms of oppression namely classism and racism.

It’s White Supremacy that allows some of us to label community members and their spaces as shady, while at the same time consuming their resources. Dually, this creates a hostile environment where our peers who identify with the people of these communities are alienated. Calling something the “Shady Shell” in reference to the people that populate that space is oppressive and exclusive. It is my hope that we can become aware of oppressive
language we use and learn to eliminate that language from our conversations. I hope we can create a culture where the Shell at 35 South Grand is called “The Shell”.

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Just Call it “The Shell”