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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

To those of you who think you’re doing it right

One thing I’ve noticed over my past six years of living in a couple states and going to different U.S. schools—from a rural public high school, to a private boarding high school and then college—is that many people speak impressively and act against racism publicly, yet behave otherwise, consciously or not, in their individual interactions with others.

Sid by side with those who look different from them, people stand up, march and shout against racism. 

However, how many times do these same people who shake their heads and say no to racist stories get annoyed or lose patience when listening to people speaking with “accents?” How many times do these same people going to weekly discussion/reading groups against racism ignore, interrupt and not even try to understand those who don’t talk like “Americans”?

Anti-racism activities and education, which initiate temporary relationships between the oppressors and the oppressed, have less than little permanent impact on creating a world without racism in practice, and aren’t enough to rescue the oppressed souls from the persistent abominable nightmares they have while being wide awake. I know many people speaking, running projects and holding events against racism who actually make me feel belittled when we interact. 

What’s the point of meeting and discussing something a couple hours a week, if, at the end of the day, you go back to your same old group of friends who look like you? What can generating a long solidarity statement do, if you don’t hold dear in your heart that all human beings are human beings? What does it mean to say you are against racism but have no interest in getting to know people who are different from you? Anti-racism is not the latest fashion that you buy into simply because others do. It’s necessary and requires sincere actions straight out of what you believe. How can you truly fight with dedication against something you don’t relate to?

To relate so much to someone that you don’t want them to suffer or be oppressed is to care about them, and in order to truly care, you need to love, either platonically or romantically. When you care about and love someone, their pain feels more painful to you, their cry echoes louder not only in your ears, but in your mind. When your close friends or family suffer, you’re more worried and heartbroken than when you see a stranger on the street suffer. 

When you have many close friends who are different from you, you don’t see them as different human beings but as friends with whom you share memories. You become more aware of and relate to the suffering they encounter and sincerely want to get them out of it. You know who you’re fighting for in this battle and why the only goal is to win it. This way, forming a deeper and more personal relationship with those who look or sound different from you has to absolutely come first.

To those who suffer racism, you aren’t alone. Because this is a sensitive thing, you have to touch on it. Because it might make you uncomfortable, you need to be even more focused on it. The more you run away, the more you hide, the more you let it go, the more you will suffer, because it will happen again. Don’t flee and don’t hide yourself, like I used to always do, because of the pain, minor or major, that racism causes. I ask you to bear with the pain but not its generators. Fight back and let those racists know that you’re a person like them — but not racist like them. Grow from your heartache and misery. 

Don’t let the racists, intentionally or not, take away your smile, the glint of happiness in your eyes, and what you can contribute to your community — especially your care for others and your ability to build a more welcoming society, from your experiences, for those who also suffer. You don’t deserve to be tearful while those causing your tears are being cheerful. Don’t let them wipe away your confidence and your chance to make great new friends. There are always people who see you as a person, as who you are, and want to support you. (I’m always thankful for you, my friends, who show me that living an anti-racist life and being inclusive to all around you creates a greater impact than having grandiose speech and cool projects, but acting the opposite way. Thank you for looking into my soul and seeing me through all the accent and appearance barriers.) Don’t let racism change who you are, except for shaping you to be a stronger person, after each battle. 

To the racists and those who aren’t nice, you might not know that you’re part of the problem because your parents and family may never have taught you how to be inclusive or how to treat those who look orsound different from you, but it’s totally okay because you can start to educate yourself. You may never have or not want to have a good friend who looks or sounds different from you, but trust me; they are people with stories, memories, feelings and thoughts like you are too. 

Incorporate what you learn in class and discussion groups from your liberal arts education into your way of looking at the world and people. Don’t pay for college, graduate, and miss a chance to be educated. Open your heart and mind wide, and you will learn so much from them—like you can learn from anyone—that you, one day, will be able to go home and teach your parents what they never taught you. 

I often feel demanding asking others to be more aware of racism because changing people’s minds is definitely harder than changing the group I’m in. Yet, a friend told me that I can never be too demanding in asking others to be nice. Plus, I learned that calling people out is important because some people just don’t know that they’re racist.

Now, take a moment to think and look around you to see how many good friends who you truly care about and love are those who don’t look or talk like you. Where are you in this fight? Is it time for a change?

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