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Dealing with Racism in College

Dealing with Racism in College

Dealing with Racism in College

Disclaimer: No one should ever be put in the position where they are forced into dealing with racism or discrimination of any kind. We as humans are all biologically the same. Universally, there is no genetic difference that separates humans based on their skin color. There is no scientific backing to the idea that different races exist. Race is a social construct and we are all one human race.

While no one should have to deal with racism, it’s, unfortunately, still present on campuses across the country. Hurtful words and actions can result in antisocial feelings; they can have a negative impact on your grades, and can cause unwanted and unwarranted stress. Before going into the different ways you can fight racism, it’s important to be aware of the various types of racism that exist and can affect you. It’s important not to fall victim to someone’s ignorance, whether it be overt, aversive, or prejudicial. An individual is overtly racist when they are completely open about their hatred and discrimination. Overt racism can take the form of violent acts or words against others. Individuals commit aversive racism when they avoid others due to their race or what religious group they belong to. Prejudices may not be as outward as other forms of racism; these are personally held thoughts and opinions against certain races and religious groups.

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How to deal with racism in college pin

Locate your school’s equity services.

In the case that you are being discriminated against, your school should offer you protection and back you up. Equity services are part of your tuition fees, so use it! There’s no need to feel shy or ashamed for taking action for yourself. Meetings are confidential and you can always file a report anonymously. If you skip this important step and don’t report what is going on, the source of your unease will continue to spread negativity and hatred on your campus. Stopping racism in its tracks one situation at a time will not only improve student experience, but will promote a zero tolerance policy to discrimination. Send the message that you can’t be messed with!

You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right

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Have a trusted support system.

This is extremely important. You shouldn’t only seek out trusted friends and family members for school or relationship advice. When you experience discrimination, you’ll be left feeling, understandably, angry and confused. Having someone to express these feelings too will ease your mind and reassure you that they are on YOUR side. An underlying motive for many racist individuals is to leave you feeling isolated and alone. This hatred is all in their heads, don’t let their ignorance get to you.  With your diverse and supporting surroundings, it’s clear that acceptance outnumbers ignorance. Let them fight their own inner demons! Clearly their hatred stems from within.

Before God we are all equally wise and equally foolish.

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Stop the “us vs. them” mentality.

This is something most of us are guilty of. Psychologically, humans use something called “schemas” to easily group information. Unfortunately, these schemas are also used to group our knowledge of other humans. Schemas are a mental shortcut but can lead to the formation of stereotypes. Our brains don’t always have enough resources to pay attention to every detail of an individual, thus, we mentally throw them into a certain category inside our heads. While this is harmless—schemas help us intake and process information about the world around us—there is a thin line between a mental short cut and an outright generalization. Just because one person or a few individuals of a certain race, religion, gender, or group have discriminated against you, it doesn’t mean that the person or persons you dealt with represent their entire group. This may sound like common sense, but generalizations are often used as defense mechanisms. Be aware of your own generalizations and work toward unlearning them. Remember that everyone’s brain processes information through schemas, being aware doesn’t make you any better than the ignorant individual who was racist towards you!

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Stick up for yourself, but don’t fight.

There’s no doubt you should stick up for yourself in these situations, but remember, you don’t deserve to be fighting this battle. You don’t deserve to be put in this situation in the first place. It completely understandable for you to be upset, but don’t take on this battle all by yourself.  You should educate the ignorant and stand your ground, but don’t tire yourself over something that doesn’t deserve your energy. They want to see you mad and all riled up, they’re waiting for a big reaction. From personal experience, the best way to go about these situations is to handle it with class and intelligence. At the end of the day, their thoughts and feelings are their problem, not yours.

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Don’t fall victim to a pointless rivalry.

In times where people feel they are victims of discrimination, many individuals turn to enhancing their culture experience or religion as a defense mechanism. I don’t see any problem with this if your culture or religion makes you feel more secure in yourself. However, do not feel the need to compete. Your culture or religion is not better than any others,  don’t feel the need to “show up” the group who discriminated against you by proving that your group is better. Don’t fall into a non-existent competition that stems from a place of hate and ignorance. Those who discriminated against you may feel that they are better than others, but this is pure ignorance. Do not engage in their mentality. You are simply two individuals, one who is clearly misled, and you—an educated, classy person who has no time to deal with this foolery.

 

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Speak up.

While some jokes may come from a harmless place, always speak up if you feel uncomfortable by what someone else says. Don’t worry about coming off as uptight or a downer. Once you speak up and point out the harmful connotations of their joke, the person telling the joke will be the one feeling embarrassed.  Some individuals may get defensive and state that they are doing nothing wrong, but reassure them that they’re only defending and reinforcing stereotypes. Racist and prejudices jokes continue to generalize an entire group and spread misinformation. The “us vs. them” mentality shouldn’t be present anywhere— including your campus!

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