“I feel safe on campus, but the fact that there were people willing to oppress minorities and make them feel like they shouldn’t be here, were moments where I was like, ‘Ummm, maybe I shouldn’t be here?'”
Produced by Megan Martinez from an interview she conducted for the Welcome Project.
Transcript for No One Ever Told Me That
There was this one instance last year around this time, there was this campaign going around where they posted, “It’s okay to be white.” So there was this idea that, I wanna say like, people who believed that…this was going around, revolving around like—there was a kid who was shot in Chicago 16 times from a cop and there was this whole like, battle against like—they had the hashtag, “It’s okay to be black,” “It’s okay to be brown,” “It’s okay to be” all these minorities, all these under-represented groups of people, it’s okay to be that. But then in order to retaliate with that, white people started saying that “It’s okay to be white,” like “Oh, we’re not important,” but they don’t realize that the effect of saying that is kind of like putting ourselves down even more. Like just to be like, “Oh it’s okay to be white, it’s okay to be this person or this color that I am,” I was like, but they don’t understand, the privilege that comes with that, the privilege that makes them feel a little bit higher than us, like we’re saying that because people don’t really understand where we’re coming from at times especially if you’re not of an underrepresented community.
So there was a time where, my roommate was—he actually met the people who were trying to put the posters around campus, so they started putting the posters, or little papers that said, “It’s okay to be white” around campus and that was a whole like, big instance where I was like, “Well, that’s not cool,” and I was like, “Why?” I was like I feel safe on campus, but the fact that they’re putting—that there are people who are willing to like oppress minorities and make them feel like they shouldn’t be here was moments where I was like, “Ummm, maybe I shouldn’t be here,” but it wasn’t enough to put like, to push me to be like “Aw, it’s fine.”
So yes, there’s been times where people have like looked at me and given me dirty looks because of like, who I am, or like the color I am and just like what I represent, and then also being an Engineering student or being a first generation minority Engineering student in the majority white classroom is kind of a little bit awkward at first. I would look around and be like, “Wow, I’m the only minority here.” There was like a couple of us, and we just like sit sporadically, but overwhelmingly it was all white, so it kind of made me feel a little bit like, “Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t be here, like why am I here? Why am I taking these classes, when all these people may have this perspective of me, like ‘Maybe he’s not—like why is he here? He’s not smart enough, or he’s not educated enough to be here.’” No one’s ever told me that, and I’m always trying to prove that fact or the idea wrong so that all the people around me will be like, “Okay he knows what he’s talking about, he deserves to be here,” and it’s not to get an approval from them it’s kind of like to make myself be heard and make sure that I’m not just like some like lower person and some person who doesn’t exist because of my color or because of where I came from.”
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