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Multicultural Confusion/ Displacement/ Clashing

The Unknown's picture

             I went to go see my brother, Justin, at Colorado College. As I walked on the campus, I immediately realized that the majority of students were white or appeared to be white. The college is located near an extremely white town, Colorado Springs. I met my brothers’ friends, who all seemed white, but when we got into the car to go to someone’s house, I was introduced to this womyn who had darker skin than the rest of his friends.

            She said, with a smile and chuckle, “Justin knows more about black history than I do. He knows all about the civil rights movement and I don’t know that much.”

            Later on, my brother commented on her in particular, “Isn’t she great? She’s so down to earth. I love hanging out with her.”

            My first impression was to be critical of both my brother for choosing what seemed like a “token black friend,” and then I thought less of the womyn because I assumed, based on her appearance that she should know about what I think of as human rights issues that predominantly concern African Americans. I thought that if the womyn was at Bryn Mawr, somehow she would be stronger or more informed and would never make a comment such as this one.

            Unfortunately, I think everyone should know more about social issues, specifically about race and class because we should see the struggles of the minorities and disadvantaged as human rights issues and communal problems rather than racial or economic concerns. These are not certain people’s issues, but should be seen as part of a collective struggle that we need to examine and figure out ways to change so that people are treated and viewed by society in a more equitable and just way.

Also, there is an educational question here, which is that because I am white and affluent and so is my brother, we have more access to knowledge and diversity of knowledge, even if it is about history that is associated with a certain race that is not our own. I have been taught and have the resources to learn about these historical struggles because of my upbringing, education, economic status, and privilege.

            I also think that everyone should know more about civil rights and African American history, not just those who consider themselves African American or black, but the fault lies in the educational, racial, and classicist system, mostly not in the individual. Unfortunately, minorities and low-income children are often not given the same educational opportunities as their white and upper class counterparts.  In fact, I don’t know if there should be “African American History” or just ourstory. One race should not bare the burden of such a spectrum of knowledge and the complexities and challenges that are associated with that information.

            I also wanted my brother to be challenged more in-terms of how he can treat different races more equally and think more about racial complexities. I struggle with trying to be as aware and conscientious about how my politics, values, and morals, specifically around racial issues are perceived. I find myself wanting to instantly make it clear that I am aware of racial, particularly African American issues and wish that African Americans were given the same opportunities as whites, when I am in the presence of people who I perceive as darker skinned. Even though I defend these same opinions when I am around primarily white people, I do not make the same effort to show my concern and in my experience white people do not talk about these struggles as often