The More Things Seem to Change…

20 Feb

I could tell you a few of the stories about the things I as a woman of color, or my friends as people of color have experienced on this campus and you wouldn’t believe your ears. I could sit with you and tell you stories of the people we have encountered here on this campus and tell you all about the things that have been said to us. I can tell you about the young Latina, first year on this campus, first year in college who mid semester of her first year wanted to transfer because of her multiple negative experiences being Puerto Rican on this campus. I could outline a series of events which led to the daughter of a boss of mine so innocently asking me, “did you paint your face that color?” Or that of the girl who decided it would be better for her to walk in the middle of the street  rather than the sidewalk when she saw my boyfriend and I holding hands, even though we were walking in the very same direction as she was. I could sit, and tell you stories and anecdotes of harassment, disbelief, being uncomfortable, stereotyped…stories of the Urban Education Program. I could tell you all these things and some of you still wouldn’t believe me, while others would be just as shocked as I was to hear these stories from others. But what are these stories worth if I can’t relay them to the people who matter? What are these stories worth if nothing is being done to change the environment so that history doesn’t repeat itself?

So, I’ve joined a new organization on the WSU campus called M.A.D.E. Stands for Multicultural Awareness and Diversity Educators. The previous organizer of the organization had graduated and the club advisor was looking for someone to fill that role. Figuring it was about time I step up into a leadership position, I offered to fill that void. In taking on this new role I was actually taking on the task of going back to the drawing board with this organization, finding out what it was meant to do, and figuring out a new strategy to achieve the goal set by its founder one year ago. During our interest meeting last week, I expressed to everyone willing to listen that the goal of MADE would be to actually promote diversity on campus, and to not just talk about it. I made it clear that diversity was more than just black and white, and being so, we would also address issues of discrimination towards people  that are disabled, issues surrounding gay rights, structural racism, feminism (and its true meaning, not bra burning, men hating women), issues surrounding health in underprivileged communities and the list goes on. Sitting down at this interest meeting, my goal was to convince every person present that they had something more to gain being a part of MADE than just being able to say they were a part of an organization on campus on their resume. It was then that I realized the true reason I wanted to join MADE. I told them, “I am doing this, because my greatest fear is that years from now when I return to Westfield State, or when my sister or a family friend decides to attend, I don’t want to see that nothing has changed. I don’t want to see that young hopeful and ambitious students of color, gay students, students that are disabled, women are still being treated the same.”

SO to combat these things that affect WSU students everyday, I decided to do a little bit of research of my own. I decided to go back to the place where my journey began, WSU orientation.

There I was, a first year student fresh out of the Urban Education Summer Bridge Program where I went from this:

 Urban Education Summer Bridge Program Class of 2011

Urban Education Summer Bridge Program Class of 2011

to this:

orientation

WSU New Student and Parent Orientation Team 2012

Oh! It gets better! Follow this link to see the four videos that were supposed to convince me to come here:

http://www.westfield.ma.edu/prospective-students/undergraduate-admissions

Let’s be honest. The first thing that anybody judges another on, is appearance, solely because that is the first thing we see. Upon meeting someone, 95% of people judge others by the way that they look. So there I was, new freshman eager to see what WSU had to offer me, and I watched these videos that had all of 2 students of color in it. And to be even more honest, it didn’t even look like they belonged there. I literally thought someone had just cropped them into the rest of the video. Oh! and let us not forget the international exchange student, because she counts too. Need I say more?

Taking this all in, I entered that Fall semester regardless of my first perceptions for a few reasons having nothing to do with my skin color. WSU had an irresistible study abroad program, the price was right, and the flexibility in choosing my major was just what I was looking for. Not to mention I had an older brother already here, and friends from the summer program as well.

Figuring that I would get nowhere by clinging to the people who looked or acted like me I attempted to branch out, speak to people I usually wouldn’t speak to,surround myself with different crowds. There was a part of me that thought I could almost suspend my race. There was a part of me that thought that if I could stop myself from seeing color, others would too. I was mistaken.:

So here I am one full year later, recalling my experiences as a student of color on this campus and I now know for sure things have to change for the sake of future scholars like my little sister. You see, I am fully aware that WSU is not some anomaly of all universities, and that there are tons of colleges and campuses out there with students who have similar experiences. In my opinion, the first step to addressing issues like these, is getting them out in the open and discussing them. Kinda like what these people are doing:

So you ask me, well, Simbrit, what are you doing about it? And to that I could tell you all about the events MADE has planned or the degree I am working on, or the people I am connecting to WSU, but rather I will only reply, “I am writing this blog arent I?”

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9 Responses to “The More Things Seem to Change…”

  1. toriedowns February 20, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    dynamic and glamorous!

  2. lmurphy44 February 21, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    very well written

  3. jlammerding9613 February 21, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    passionate and personal

  4. amberpettell February 21, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    purposeful

  5. sarahepowell February 21, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    shocking

  6. patriotsfan610 February 21, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Confident

  7. evancrimmins February 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Real

  8. bobmarket February 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    loud

  9. Mark March 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    Yes, you are writing this blog! And doing it quite well; I really like your sense of narrative, and your voice, here.
    And I’m glad that you are connecting this work to the important work you’re doing with MADE, and that you see this blog as a meaningful platform.

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