by Medgina Saint-Elien
Hey guys! Medge here — back at it again with my musings! This time around it’s about a subject that you either may not know too much about or you may know about or just don’t want to talk about it, or some other happy medium.
We’re talking race in America.
I know, sounds intimidating huh? That’s all the more reason to address this controversial subject. I’m going to make this as painlessly clear as possible!
There are a lot of things going on in my life – especially as Caribbean student on a predominantly white campus – that have drawn me to this topic. I keep facing ignorance and holding my tongue to remain “politically correct” on what I’m passionate about. It sucks. So here’s my chance to speak up.
Here’s the truth: unfortunately racism and discrimination still exists. Yes, in 2016 there are people who think this way. I’m at the point where I’m no longer angry about it but disappointed. Why aren’t things changing?
I used to gladly say that “I don’t see color,” without noticing what it means. Acting like the differences between individuals don’t exist dismisses their identity. Appreciating diversity in this salad bowl we call America is the perfect dressing.
Now let’s break that down.
1. Appreciating diversity does not mean there’s no work to put in.
It’s not your friend’s job to inform you on certain slang, styles, history- they don’t have all the answers. And even if they do, that does not mean they must dissect every little aspect of their culture.
Sliding into the slippery slope of stereotypes is easy. Trust me, I know we’ve all been guilty of this. They paint a picture that doesn’t fit into the frame. You don’t just wait for someone to prove that they are nothing like the typical tropes of their race, be mindful of the differences we have as individuals.
2. Social justice isn’t solely placed in the hands of those affected. If something makes you uncomfortable, say something. If you watch it happen to someone else and it’s unsettling, say something.
As frightening as it might be at first, silence can be the worse reaction. History shows all the times where not speaking up leads to even more problems. Don’t think that because an ignorant comment wasn’t made towards you that it shouldn’t be addressed. Critical thinking is essential to live in the times we live in now.
3. Constantly asking your friend their reaction/opinion to everything can make them feel like a victim. No matter how socially aware you are or think you’re being at the time, be careful not to make them feel used or uncomfortable.
They have an individual story that should be celebrated and not taken advantage of.
Personally, there are distinct situations that I as a black woman will go through/face that some of my friends won’t. Sure, they sympathize but they don’t understand (I won’t fault them for that either).
I love having socially aware friends who are willing to learn more about what happens in lives other than their own. Ignorance cannot be bliss in this generation.
Feigning innocence doesn’t solve anything. Pull back the veil and take the time to see the world for what it is.
Much love, Medge