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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Open letter: Dear white people…

<ir="ltr">Dear white people,

    I see you in classes talking passionately about the injustices of government systems and economic inequalities, willing to put your dignity on the line to argue for Bernie over Hillary. It really confuses me, therefore, that the same thoughtfulness in your answers seem to be left at the door of the classroom when you interact with people of color. Maybe it’s because the issues of Black Lives Matter and racial or religious profiling are just academic topics to you, so you don’t know how to approach them in real life with the people who are directly affected. It really bemuses me when a convocation dinner for a prominent Black Lives Matter activist is held and only one out of the 1500 white people on campus show up. Somehow though you still have the time to file community concern forms against minority students because they attacked your fragile ego.

I see a lot of you trying and I’m glad that you’re part of the struggle. For those who don’t care, even if you read this, I’m sure you still won’t give a crap. I don’t care that you don’t care, to be honest. I care more that when we call you out on your passive aggressive racist actions you deflect those accusations and put the blame on us instead. The community concern form is not a blanket for your fragile egos, and the minority voice does not exist solely for “diversity in the classroom.”


Dear freshmen,

    I see you with your eager enthusiasm and newfound perspectives, trying to fit in with your new friends and look smart in front of the professors. Fall term was bright and everyone was happy but suddenly winter term comes and all these angry upperclassmen are yelling about microaggressions and privilege. Watching your baffled faces at these diversity talks really reminds me of my brash freshman self. It’s hard to say when I became so cynical about the Carleton community and people in general. The first time I was called out for a problematic joke I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days, wondering why people were so “PC.” Now I know it’s not about being politically correct – it’s about recognizing other’s struggles.

    Sometimes I wish I were like you again, worrying more about how to write a paper the way my prof wants me to and how to eat dinner alone at LDC without looking like a loner. I’m not saying your problems aren’t valid – I know for a fact there’s a lot more to your life than I see. I just feel that at the very least my freshman year was a lot more carefree than the years after. I hope you’ll forgive me when I say that seeing you awakens a slight tinge of resentment and nostalgia for the days when my ignorance-colored glasses made everything seem so blissful.  


Dear international students,

    I see you assimilating into campus and American culture – some better than others, of course. I want to say I know your struggle because I’m also considered international, but I live on the border of US and Canada and there’s no way I can understand how you, who left everything you knew and loved just to get a liberal arts education, feel.  It’s probably like that for many of you – if you seem more “western” you’re more likely to fit in and feel comfortable at Carleton, otherwise hopefully you’ve found your niche with the international students.

    Sometimes I wonder why more of you aren’t involved in social justice activism. Maybe you didn’t identify with the minority population back home, and some of the terms people throw around here just don’t resonate with you. I think I can understand why you don’t care, because chances are many of you won’t even be here after you graduate (thanks to the US’s terrible immigration system) so why spend the time you have on something that won’t matter in a few years?

    These are all guesses of course, so I have no idea how accurate my hypotheses are. How will you feel about Carleton at the end of your time here? Do you regret coming to a place where you’re the minority and sometimes deemed a threat to status quo? When I see you I’m reminded that there’s more to this world than the Carleton bubble that enfolds us, and sometimes that’s more frightening than the news on television.


Dear people of color,

    I see you working hard and trying to bend the system to accommodate you instead of the other way around. You’re so inspiring and remind me constantly to love myself for who I am.

    I believe that people are separated more by class and culture than race. Those of you who grew up around white influence are more prone to (unconsciously) pandering to the white gaze and ignoring the struggles of their fellow melanin-filled peers. High school me was subject to this blindness, and I came into college so excited to meet all of these white people and potentially even marry one of them. Dear blinded peers of color, don’t be fooled. White supremacy doesn’t shatter just because you’ve blended in with societal norms. If you successfully avoid the obstacles that many of us have to face, I commend you for using the system to your advantage – but don’t forget your brothers and sisters who are fighting just to be themselves.



Wanchen Yao (an Asian woman from a low-income background who has no choice but to care about social equity and justice, and forgets sometimes that for others it’s a side-thought that can be pushed away when it’s no longer funny or entertaining.

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