I live color
Editor’s note: The following
article contains language that some may find offensive.
For persons of color, it’s impossible to be “colorblind.” Their skin repeatedly defines experiences because of the way others see them. What follows is not meant to be divisive. Instead, the Red & Green editors and I hope sharing these stories will lead to awareness for students who have the privilege of not being defined by the color of their skin.
Four black students currently attending Minot State University, who will remain anonymous to ensure their privacy, agreed to share these experiences about their life and views on race to begin an important conversation to move toward change. They are identified as Student A, Student B, Student C, and Student D.
Student A has personally experienced numerous acts of racism in the Minot community.
“Some people say they are accepting but don’t realize that their actions contradict that,” Student A, who has had racial slurs directed at her, said.
“I’ve been called a nigger,” Student A said. “Racial slurs happen on this campus. People do experience it.”
Student B has heard derogatory things said on campus, but has never had anything directed at him personally.
Student C has experienced racially insensitive comments from fellow students.
“My roommate said we get along because I’m basically white,” Student C said.
On another occasion, a classmate asked Student C if white parents raised her because of how well-spoken she was.
“I have to be very conscious of my color when I’m talking to people,” Student C said. “You always have it in the back of your mind when you walk into a room, and you can’t put it aside because everyone is looking at you like you’re different. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality.”
A simple act like walking to school can draw the attention of drive-by racists.
Students A and C, who are female, have been the recipients of harassing and derogatory statements from motorists.
The two male students didn’t share the same experiences.
A motorist once called student A a hooker as she was walking to class.
“It’s sad that it’s become such a daily thing that it doesn’t surprise you anymore. I still get upset, and it’s become too frequent and too common,” Student A said.
Student C has been targeted by motorists, too. As a precautionary measure she wears headphones and avoids making eye contact with people when she walks between campus and her apartment.
“The longer I’ve been here, the more glaring it is to me, and the more scared I get,” Student C said. “I’m scared all the time.”
Student A experienced an act of racism on campus in 2016. The act occurred over the now defunct social app, Yik Yak, which allowed students on campus to anonymously post information for others to see. One night, someone posted, “The African monkeys in Dakota Hall are being loud.” Student A believes the comment was directed at her and her friends who had gone to bed early that same night.
Student A thinks racist comments have been on the rise since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.
“Trump got elected and now people think they can say whatever,” Student A said.
Student D believes Trump’s leadership has been detrimental to healing the racial divide. Speaking of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last August involving white supremacist groups and counter protesters, Student D said, “To have our leader morally make it equivalent — that’s just wrong.”
Closer to home, Student D has a more optimistic view of race relations.
“I’ve never had anything happen at Minot State. I feel like there’s been no discrimination at all toward me, and I’m proud to say that,” Student D said.
However, Student D has been the target of racial slurs off campus.
“I’ve been called a nigger and a monkey,” he said. On another occasion, “Someone told me I was left in the oven for too long.”
Student D believes that on the Minot State campus “respect between races is good,” but that everyone would benefit from a discussion on the issue of race.
“An educated discussion about racial issues and racial injustice that’s going on in the United States is vitally important,” Student D said.
Students A, C, and D want to see more done by the college administration to address racism, and race relations on campus.
“I think the university doesn’t want to scare away potential students by acknowledging that racism exists,” Student A said.
Minot State’s racial discrimination policy falls under the harassment policy section of the student handbook.
“I believe it’s good to have policies against discrimination, but it’s not enough,” Student C said. “You also need to educate people on it, why that policy is there, what it means, and what it means to them.”
Student D thinks people need to re-evaluate the criteria that they judge others by.
“At the end of the day, you have to look at someone’s character, and judge them on that rather than the color of their skin,” Student D said. “What does your character say about you?”
All four students interviewed for this article agree that the university should facilitate a discussion about race on campus.
“Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away,” Student A said. “We need to have an honest conversation.”
Student D would like to see students and administrators engage is a dialogue on race.
“Have President Shirley come to a sit down with students and talk about the issue,” student D said.
On the issue of colorblindness, all four students agree that it is an untenable position to take when it comes to talking about race.
“You do see color. You can’t say you don’t see it when you do,” Student B said.
On the subject of racism, Student A believes “the more you keep quiet, the more it keeps growing.”
“I see color. I’m human enough to admit that. It’s important to acknowledge that you see color because it speaks to your honesty,” Student D said. “I feel like we’re all conditioned to judge a book by its cover so quickly that we’re all lost. That’s why we need to sit down and have a discussion. Are we going to move in the right direction, or are we going to continue to judge and live in fear?”