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“Slipping into Something More (Un) comfortable”: Untangling Identity, Unsettling Community

September 16th, 2015


“Racism remains insistently present-and-active at the College, as it does elsewhere in the country. And much of our current work to unseat such campus hierarchies seems to me problematic, paradoxical, enacting the dream of restoration, grasping for a time that never was, and never can be.”


During the Bryn Mawr tour, what occupied my brain was “How African-American students are feeing now?”

I am neither black nor white, so I could see the history and listen to the guides objectively. Although I could, I did not. I was leaning to black side. I was imagining that the tour for African-Americans would be like the Atomic Bomb Dome tour for me, which is guided by American people.

To be honest, the tour was uncomfortable. At first, I was moved by the courage of the first African- American student who graduated from Brynmawr, and that made me feel like crying, but gradually I felt discomfort in my heart because the history of discrimination against black people was explained by white people. If I, a Japanese, was explained about the nuclear weapon and the terrible memory of Hiroshima by American people, I would be upset, especially if they say “It is interesting to learn”. It is not fun for Japanese people at all.

But why would I have to be upset even though I was not born at that time? I was a little confused about this idea. I like America. I like American people. I like English. That is why I came here. However, I do not want to be taught about how tragic the atomic bombing Hiroshima was. There is an emotional wound in my heart as a Japanese. This is what I thought right after the Bryn Mawr tour.

However, the discussion in the class broadened my perspective. The tour guide looked white, but they may have personal connection with black people and culture. Also if the tour was guided by only African-Americans, that causes another problem because the story has to do with white people a lot. Both of them are needed to be in the research and the program to see the things from different aspects. Even though I don’t want to, probably I should talk about WW with people in the states so that I can see it from US eyesight as well.

There is a power distance everywhere. Though it looks no discrimination at Brynmawr college now, people still look up to, or look down to others unconsciously. Joining the tour made the students conscious about this matter for good or bad. If it did not hurt anyone’s feelings, the tour was meaningful.