Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Slices of a Story

<ok at someone, we only get slices of their story. These slices can be very misleading, and can lead to come very vicious, damaging, preconceived ideas. Now, this article is not meant to be a lecture…I am not exempt from my observations. You see, I have noticed a disturbing trend among Carls; many have no problem making harmful assumptions about their peers. These assumptions may not have malicious intent, but they are damaging nonetheless. They are made everyday, yet when discussions arise about racial and socio-economic tensions in Carleton, students pretend that nothing is wrong. That everything is perfect. During talks on diversity, people love discussing how accepting Carleton is. However, when these seminars end, the progress made often retreats into the shadows. For a friendly, accepting campus, Carleton seems to have a lot of shadows.

Everyone is at Carleton for a reason. Everyone here is smart, ambitious, and has something to add to campus. That is why I don’t understand the notion that some people don’t deserve to be here. I was talking to a girl I know who is part of the Carlton Posse Program, and she completely busted my naïve bubble. She said that since Posse is a program geared towards low-income and minority students, many Carls assume that it was easier for her to get into Carleton. She said that people just look at her, and, when they find out she is from Chicago, Carleton’s Posse affiliate, they just nod their heads and say, “oh, now I get it.” Of course, it’s actually harder to get into Posse then it is to get into Carleton, especially in the Chicago area. According to The Posse Foundation’s website, in 2013, “Posse received over 15,000 nominations for 660 spots.” She obviously worked very hard to get here, yet people seem to think it’s okay to question her place and value at Carleton. What I don’t get is why it matters to them. The college application process is over! We all ended up here. Carleton chose each and every one of us. Instead of bickering as to why other people got in, how about we see for ourselves. How about we delve into the shadows and find the grey, unspoken areas of each other’s stories.

I recently went to a talk by organic peach farmer and memoirist David Mas Masumoto. He said, even as a non-fiction writer, he understands that he will always have assumptions. What really struck me was when he said that; “we see the world through our eyes.” Now, this may seem like a simple concept, but it’s a truth that is rarely acknowledged. People are stubborn. We like to pretend that we understand everything, and when we don’t, we dismiss it. When we don’t understand where someone is coming from, especially in terms of complex issues such as race and poverty, we pretend they don’t exist. If we do acknowledge them, we acknowledge them in slices. We rarely see more than one slice of a person at a time. We see a person and immediately assume something about them; one slice. What we need to do is ask them questions. We need to sit down, shut up, and listen, or else the world will be forever fragmented. Or else people will never be whole. Or else differences will never be accepted. They will be sliced so thin that, while they still exist, the whole person can never be put back together again.

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