Opinion

What separates us?

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By Ashley DeLeon
Contributing Writer

To the people who reduce us to the “n word” and presume that we are a threat to this campus, this is for you.

In life, you are going to encounter people who are unlike yourself. People who appear, speak, and act differently.           For many of you at this institution, you may be experiencing this now. You may even prejudge people like myself based on our outward appearances and skin colors. However, these stereotypes are not truths or realities. They areboxes that wrongfully categorize groups of people. They separate and prompt many to assumethat they know everything about us. 

Put prejudice aside and look past the stereotypes portrayed of us in mainstream media. Get to know us for who we are. We are more than what you see on the outside.

We all share a few common goals– to receive an education, graduate with respective degrees, and to make breakthroughs in various fields of expertise.

Do our ambitions not serve as a common point of comradery? Are the colors of our skin and individualities as human beings enough to separate us? It may seem disheartening to awaken to this reality, but this is the world we live in. We live in a time when people of color are vulnerable targets of hate speech andcrimes because of a melanin we can’t control.

I cannot tell you the amount of racism experienced on campus in the span of a few months, followed by the willful ignorance that has poisoned the student body.

For a student body that prides itself on outreach, love, and humility, it is hypocritical that these terms do not always equate to actions toward people of color at this institution. To the majority of people who are aware of this and choose to stay quiet, you are a big part of this problem and why this keeps happening.

To the people who feel that this does not apply to them, know that many of your peers and friends are living in constant fear that something may happen to them.

To the people who choose to ignore this problem because they want nothing to do with it, your willful ignorance will continue to embed scars in racism. This is not a problem only involving people of color. It affects everyone.

When you choose to ignore notices about racism and intentionally choose to “dress up as Mexicans,” wear fake dreads, and appropriate black culture for Halloween, you are deepening the wounds of racism. Indeed, you are being racist. Take accountability for your actions and become educated.

Many of you choose not to educate yourselves. I may not be able to force you to learn, but by intentionally choosing not to, you have created a false reality for yourselves. Your white privilege is no longer viable for ignoring the truths you are surrounded by on a daily basis.

To the racists, committing hateful acts on campus, we know that you want us to become violent and retaliative. That will not happen. Although you call us the n word as we pass by and make it known that we are different on this campus, you cannot and will not ever be able to strip us of our pride and dignity. We are as equal as everyone living and breathing this campus air, and nothing you do will ever change that.

You wanted press and campus outrage. You got it. You wanted people to be scared. You got it. You see us as a problem, but we are not going anywhere.

When many of you comment, “well why did you come to a school in Vermont then,” let me remind you that we arrived for the same reasons you did. We agree with the ideologies of the school and believe that Saint Michael’s College will foster opportunities to help us thrive in our society. Remember that helping society is a group effort, and one cannot achieve this alone.

Oftentimes, the people you discriminate against have parallel interests and intentions as yourselves. If you look into the values of a person rather than the colors of their skin, you may be able to form and alliance with the community around you.

Ashly DeLeon ‘23 is a Media Studies major and student writer for the marketing and Communications department at St. Michael’s. 

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