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A Lesson From A Student of Color

February 17, 2018

No matter how much I progress at this school, I continuously find myself fighting the same battle. Time after time, I continually must point out the following:

1) Racial injustices taking place in this country.

2) Discrimination/racial insensitivity taking place on campus.

I find myself talking about this until I am blue in the face, and people often look at me as if I have three heads. They make it appear as if I am making up the statistics or something. Shoot! Even when I am talking about my firsthand experiences at this school and off campus, they somehow believe that I am lying.

It is beyond apparent that students of color are facing microaggressions, discrimination, and racism on most of college campuses. These come in the form of stuff we have all heard before: “You don’t act like a normal black person you know”; “No, but where are you really from?”; “You’re pretty for a dark person,” etc. Microaggressions come from more than just students. In numerous instances, faculty members have directed microaggressions at me. Quite often, professors will appoint me the voice of all black people due to the limited representation of my race in the classroom/social setting.

I don’t want to be the guy who cries racism, but when I am presented with racism, you best believe I am going to combat it. One common thing that I have found out to be true through my experiences with racism is that the perpetrators expect you to do one thing: prove their perception of you and your people to be true. Countless times, I have argued with racists, and even had screaming matches with them. However, one thing that I have not done is prove their opinion of me to be true. They expected me to hit them and let the feeling of guilt of my wrongdoing eat me alive. I refuse to give them what they want.

Since we were children in grammar school, we were taught, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me... This idiom means that no matter the words that are being said against you, you should not retaliate in a physical nature. I stand by that to this day as a 21-year-old man.

 

While being at a predominantly white school, I have grown accustomed to:

∙ Being asked, “How does it feel to be a black man living in Vermont?”

∙Being mistaken for another black man on this campus

∙Constantly feeling as if I have something to prove because of my race.

∙People asking me if I like stereotypical black things such as watermelon, basketball, Kool-Aid, etc. This also develops into people asking me if my family is on welfare.

∙Watching people clutch their belongings when I come near them or even cross the street while I walk towards them.

When talking about these truths to people at a school like this, at times I feel as if they don’t hear me or at least don’t try to. They are quick to combat your truths with, “Why are you trying to make villains out of white people?” or “What did you do to provoke them?”. At times I feel as if I am more of a teacher to these people than a student. Day in and day out, I must remind people as well as teach them the reality of what black people go through on a campus like this.

 

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