I was raised in an area filled with African Americans. My parents’ home is located in an area where hard working blacks thrive. The high school I graduated from was almost 100% African American and had a 100% graduation rate in 2015. I never attended a predominantly white school because the area I lived in did not have much white people. All the clubs I joined, sports I played, classes I sat in, and grocery stores I shopped at were filled with beautiful people of color.
When I graduated high school I decided to attend a school with more diversity. An institute where I could interact with other races and gain more knowledge and understanding of other backgrounds. The first few weeks were going well. I was meeting new people and learning things I did not know before. A few more weeks passed and I noticed people physically expressing their negative beliefs. I starting noticing people wearing t-shirts with the confederate flag printed right along the front of the shirt. It was exposed for the whole campus to see. This was my first time ever seeing something like this in person. The person and shirt left me speechless. I was disgusted. Just knowing there are people in this world that actually support the meaning and idea behind the Confederate flag infuriates me.
“…you can imagine the look on my face or anyone’s face to realize that students are being harassed and degraded because of the color of their skin in an environment that is supposed to feel and be safe.”
A few weeks ago as I was leaving my 9 am class to go meet up with some of my friends I heard someone shouting a few derogatory remarks behind me. I was not sure if I was hearing correctly. It was early in the morning of course and anything between 8 am to 10 am does not register in my mind properly. I kept hearing the phrases become louder and bolder,
“white power not black power!”
“Vote Donald Trump to restore power!” and even a dumb phrase like,
“If it’s black take it back.”
At this point I knew my hearing was perfectly fine. I kept walking and contemplated for two seconds whether I should or shouldn’t say something to the person. I heard giggles and laughter from what sounded like a young lady behind me. I knew something had to be said because obviously she found it amusing. As if the entire existence of black people is to be used as punchlines to pathetic jokes. I turned around and began to tell the young man to shut his mouth, he quickly interrupted and said “It’s okay to not be white,” to patronize me. From there he quickly ran out the door with his friend trailing behind him. I could not believe what I just experienced. I was in utter disbelief. It was like everyone around me was already used to this type of behavior. No one seemed phased by his words. As I told different people about the ordeal they did not have the reaction I was looking for.
Racism like this happens on campuses all across the U.S. Some are heard of and others go unnoticed or are not given attention. There are people whose sole purpose on going to school is to further their education and make connections that will last forever. So you can imagine the look on my face or anyone’s face to realize that students are being harassed and degraded because of the color of their skin in an environment that is supposed to feel and be safe. Younger generations love to tweet and make memes about Black Lives Matter and the election in November, but many are not doing anything about it. You cannot make a tweet and expect the oppression of black people to end then later go back and continue on like there aren’t race issues amongst us. We need to continue being more proactive. We must stay consistent so our voices can be heard. Racism will not end overnight, but it will improve. Peacefully protesting and joining clubs and organizations of people trying to reach a common goal can help you stay motivated in fighting the cause. Always remember to remain yourself melanin, coconut oil, hair coils and all. Get your education, stay smart, and undistracted. Racism on campus is a battle thousands of students endure daily, but with persistence we will get through it.
Aicha Diallo is a freshman student majoring in Political Science. Aicha has been writing stories, poems, and blogging since she was 9 years old. You can find more from Aicha on Instagram (@missaichajolie) or Twitter (@missaichajolie).