Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Where are you FROM?: Racism at Colgate University #rant

One of my friends is from Hong Kong, and people always tell her, "Wow, your English is really good!" 
And she replies with something like, "Oh, thank you." 

English is her first language. 

She told me that during one of her classes, she and her friend from Brunei were participating in a lecture when the professor said, "What is like to be white in America? Because, let's face it, most of us here are white." 

What does it mean to be white in America?
Well, no one compliments your English. 

And certain other scenarios wouldn't even cross your mind. 

My biology lab professor told us that when sending in her academic papers for peer editing, she'd receive nasty comments: "You have no logic" and other scrawls criticizing her writing style. And sometimes, she'd get, "Is English your native language?" because she's of Hispanic origin. 
      And when she told this to us, a Caucasian girl in my class interjected, "Ohmygod! That's horrible!" It is horrible. And it's something that she couldn't image, something that would probably never happen to her. 

But I guess if my Biology professor has to put up with that kind of ignorance (and she is BRILLIANT by the way), then I can take the ignorance, too. 

And I have. 

During a meeting with my art history teacher:
"I gave you an A-. I really like the way you write; it's like you're making comments about the artwork, and you have your own voice." I was feeling pretty good about my first essay until... "But you use certain words incorrectly. This means something else. And sometimes, you phrase things awkwardly. Is English your first language?
"Yes." There was an awkward pause. "I'm from California.."
"Do you speak any other languages at home? It's just that, I have a lot of Asian students... and I don't mean to assume..." Wait.. you don't mean to assume.. Then, why are you assuming?

Also, when  you're white, no one tells you stupid things like, "All white people look that same!" 

This morning, I went to order an omelette in the dining hall.
"Could I have an omelette with bacon, cheese, and broccoli?-"
"Didn't you order one already?"
He gave me a strange look. But then, some other Asian girl came to grab an already-made omelette composed of similar ingredients. 

And you never EVER get asked if you're a citizen of the United States.

My Chinese friend was ordering an omelette one day as well.
"It's pretty cold outside," she said, just making small talk with the chubby omelette dude.
"Yeah... is it not cold where you're from?"
"Are you International? What country are you from?"
"I from Connecticut." 

For place prided on its diversity and academics, so far, Colgate has 
fallen short in terms of being an accepting environment. I have never felt so...
My being "Asian" has never been so blatant
so noticed
the basis of how people perceive or judge me.
Does it matter?
Why does it matter that I'm Asian?

Colgate's Student Government Association e-mail: "You picked an enthusiastic and diverse group of representatives! We come from as close as New York and as distant as Hong Kong!"

What does it matter where a person is from?
Does one person represent the entirety of his or her country?

Does distance make someone unique?

Why does a school want so much diversity?
To be able to write diversity on a pamphlet? 
To advertise their 

collection of ethnic students?

Does distance make a difference?
Does diversity make a difference?
What does it matter where I'm from? 
Does that determine my character?
Does that help you assume things about my character?

Why do we assume?
Why do we pick out differences rather than see commonalities?

And I know that none of this bullshit would have happened at UCLA (UC Lotta Asians) or another Asian-dominated school. But the majority is ignorant so ignorance reigns. 

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