New Country Same Me

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Since first coming to Trinity 3 months ago, I use to think race wasn’t such a big deal anymore and that it was more of a thing of the past. My awareness of racism and perception of its effects on everyday lives has significantly increased. Not only that, but I’ve also had to dealt with something completely new to me. I’ve always heard about how minorities have had a hard time fitting in, having to adjust, and even succeeding, but I had never experienced it firsthand before coming to Trinity. Since the first time I realized I was now a minority my whole outlook on race significantly change.


Coming from Panama, being part of the majority, I felt like I was similar to all of the people around me and never had to make an effort to fit in. All of my classmates and friends had the same tastes in music and food and even had a similar sense of humor as me. In Panama people are not divided into categories based on their skin color or social class. There are all types of races and ethnicities but everyone is just seen as Panamanian. I went to school with a few black kids and several kids of lower social classes; but the majority of my classmates were just like me. I never felt out of place and much less like I needed to adjust in order to fit in. My family was also very wealthy and known throughout the country. I knew my name could get me places without having to work as hard as some other people had to; but all these feelings of comfort disappeared as I left Panama with the goal of obtaining a better education.


At first everything seemed normal, I got along really well with my roommate and my hall mates were all really nice. It wasn’t until I started to go out on the weekends and meet lots of new people that I realized that I was different from everyone else. All these new people I was meeting were completely different from me. They didn’t like the same type of music as me, their sense of humor was not similar to mine, and they were always drinking beer, which I hated. My accent did not help either. I felt frustrated every time someone wouldn’t understand my name or something I was trying to say; which made me hesitant to talk when I was with large groups of people. All the little things made me feel like maybe Trinity was not the right place for me. I started to second-guess my decision of coming to Trinity and started to get worried.


All my friends who had gone to college before me or at the same time, had gone to bigger universities where they had made dozens of Latin American friends by the end of orientation. I knew none of them felt like me since I was the only one attending a small liberal arts college were Latin Americans were hard to come by. They could not understand what I was going through. When thinking about life at Trinity, it never occurred to me that my race and ethnicity would affect my experience in any way. This was a whole new experience for me.


After a couple weeks feeling lost, my experience at Trinity slowly started to change. My great relationship with my roommate and hall mates started to increase my level of comfort. My accent didn’t bother me anymore, and I even learned to like different types of music. This level of comfort I gain from spending time with them started to translate into my social life and even into my classes. I became less hesitant to participate in class or introduce myself to new people. For the firs time since I left Panama, I didn’t feel like I needed to try to be someone different in order to fit in. I embraced the things that made me different and it made all the difference.


People from foreign countries or even forming part of a racial minority tend to struggle to fit in at predominantly white colleges. It’s true part of this is due to the segregation that they encounter at these institutions like Trinity; but a lot of that lack of comfort and struggle to fit in we sometimes feel, can be a mechanism of self-defense created by our fear of not being liked because of our race or ethnicity. Looking back to my hard times the first couple weeks of school, I feel a big part of my lack of comfort was the outcome of my fear of not being accepted they way I was. I felt like I needed to adjust and become someone else when no one had given me a reason to think so.


Racism is still a major problem in today’s world, but sometimes our fear of it can make us feel out of place before having even tried to put ourselves out there. In my case this was definitely the case. I was having a hard time and struggling to feel comfortable at Trinity just because I had realized I was not like everyone else anymore. I was not in Panama anymore, and the new experience of being a minority was frightening for me. My fear of being rejected for being different blinded me from realizing I had no problem fitting in. Since my first day at Trinity I had made good friends with my roommate and my hall mates, but outside of my dorm it felt like a different place and it took me sometime to translate that confidence I had with them to the social scene at Trinity.


I never felt like I was being discriminated because of my race in any way, but during my first semester at Trinity, my view of the role race can play in our everyday lives has significantly changed. Attending a school in another country, or even one in which you’re part of the racial minority for the first time is sure to be a difficult transition; but we tend to make it even tougher for ourselves by thinking we won’t fit in without having really tried. The main reason I felt out of my comfort zone during my first weeks at Trinity was because I was different. Never did anyone do a certain thing to make me feel this way. I just inferred that by being somewhat different from everyone else I wouldn’t fit in. Three months after feeling that way, I can’t even express how wrong I was by thinking maybe Trinity was not the right place for me. It only took a change in approach for everything to change. As soon as I stopped thinking being different was preventing me from fitting in my whole experience here completely changed. The transition from a majority to a minority might seem scary, but an open mind and a positive attitude come a long way in making it a rather smooth one.





Perspectives Change

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For most of my life race and social class has never played played a significant role. Meaning I am not a racist and for the earlier parts of my life I was surrounded by people of the same social class, so it never seemed to come up in my life as an issue. During my first year seminar, Color and Money, we examined the effects of race and social class and discussed how these relate to our lives. After looking at these subjects with much more detail I found that race and social class have been playing a huge role in my life the entire time. What I did not realize is that is not about what happened to me because of my race and social class, it is about what did not happen to me because of them.

Recognizing my white privilege was an eye opening experience because I had honestly thought that there was no such thing anymore. When people would talk about white people having an immediate advantage in life I did not necessarily believe it. I associated those type of things with the more southern states, where some people are still stuck in their outdated ways and ideology. I did not imagine that the prejudices that were once held years ago still affect minorities today. From my ignorant perspective, we went to the same schools in elementary school, knew the same people so I did not think that it played a factor in their lives either. I did recognize that there was a socio-economic gap that left the average minority on a lower level than the average white person economically, but I thought that people were working to change that. This became more evident when I went to private school for middle school and high school. I thought there were structures in place to combat these tendencies that still plague our society. I was convinced things like affirmative action and financial aid were put into place to make it a more even playing field. These systems can be effective, but they do not target deeper issues that still exist in our society. Having the ability to walk around campus without being asked for my ID and growing up in a society where things that we want are many times considered with things that we need are two privileges that many minorities are not able to experience. I did not realize that not having to deal with issues of race and social class already gave me an upper hand.

An experience that changed my view of what being a minority was like was the walk out that we attended in the Washington room. This event was intended to discuss the many racially charged events that have occurred on Trinity’s campus and campuses around the nation, and possible ways to fix them. People shared compelling stories about how they were discriminated against or looked upon differently because of their race. While all of this was going on, I could not help but feel like the outsider. People shared story after story of situations where people had said or done something very hurtful to them. It was evident that these things could not simply be brushed off or forgotten about easily. The students running the event wanted everyone to be heard, so they gave out index cards for people to write down their stories. After starting the event they told everyone to write down a story where you or a friend of yours felt excluded or discriminated against because of their race. I thought hard about this question, but I could not come up with anything. As I looked around this room there was a sea of people of color all writing feverishly, and every once in a while I could pick out a white person. More often than not that white person was doing the same thing as I was: scanning the room and wondering why it seemed as though everyone else had a story right off the top of their head, but I could not think of a single instance ever in my life. This exercise showed the separation between what a minority has to go through and what white people undergo. I, and many other white people from similar backgrounds that attended the event never knew what it was like to be discriminated against. Yet every person of color had a story where they were looked at differently because of their race. I am thankful that I have never been discriminated against, but this clear separation shows that our society still has many issues concerning race when every person of color began writing down a story right away.

At this moment I recognized the demographic of the room. As I looked around I realized that I was now in the minority. I tried to think back to a time when I was just one of a handful of white people in a room filled with people of color, and I could not remember one. This was a new experience for me, and admittedly I felt a little weird.

One black student made a long and funny speech on how he was fed up with the white culture being the predominant culture at our school, and how that can possibly feed into a white student’s privilege. He made fun of how we listen to and dance to EDM music at parties. He poked fun at how we wear clothing brands like Vineyard Vines and Patagonia. At one point in his talk I suddenly realized he was describing me. When I go out I listen to EDM music. Even at the event I was wearing Vineyard Vines, and I remember that day I almost wore my Patagonia (thank God I didn’t). It seemed as though every element of what he considered white culture that he addressed, I took part in.

I understood that he was doing it mostly to just vent some frustrations and joke around a little, but at the same time I felt as though he was targeting me personally. At the time I felt extremely uncomfortable and sort of attacked. I felt bad that he associated me with all these other stories of racism. I wanted to apologize but it felt a little unfair that I had to apologize for something I did not do. He was simply making judgements on my character from the way I looked but not actually what I did. That is when I realized that black people face this issue on campus all the time. He made a judgment on who I was the same way that a campus police officer judges a person of color when he randomly asks to see their student ID. It amazed me that for being at a place like Trinity College where I had worked so hard to earn my spot, I felt so deeply that I did not belong. I began to ask myself, “Is that how people of color feel when they are discriminated against?” It felt so strange that I worked so hard to earn Trinity’s approval, but in that situation I was not wanted. For the small amount of time I was at this event I felt attacked and very awkward, but I am very glad I went. It made me realize how it felt to do nothing wrong yet still be targeted.

My seminar Color and Money really opened my eyes to the effects of racism in our country. When I was young, I grew up in blissful ignorance to what was really going on around me. I had never experienced that uncomfortable sensation that I had felt in the walk out. For a split second I felt like a minority that was wrongly accused. I had no idea that while growing up my minority friends were experiencing that unpleasant feeling all the time. It occurred to me as I left the event, that after I leave the building that awkward sensation will go away and my life will go back to usual. On the other hand, after the walk out people of color that attended will go back to facing those uncomfortable and sometimes hurtful situations. I thought about the people close to me as well. My friends who are minorities will continue to face this throughout their lives. I decided that I had to make it a priority to change the way people think. Simply calling people out when they say something racist even if they did not know it was is very important. It is unfair and and simply wrong that people have to go through life facing situations where they feel that they do not belong. It is important that people speak out against racism and try to show ignorant people what is actually happening to minorities.

Let’s Talk About Race

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I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts where the majority of the population was white. Throughout my childhood I had very few interactions with people of other races. From the time I was five years old until the time I was fourteen years old I played soccer, took dance classes, went to CCD, and went to public school. All of my soccer teammates were white; all of the girls in my dance classes were white; all of the kids in my CCD classes were white, and all of the kids I went to school with were white. Because of this, I grew up with a limited knowledge of race and how it affects individuals. I was unaware of the existence of racial inequality, unaware of the effect that race had on me, and essentially unaware of my white privilege.


In 2011, I began high school at a small boarding school in Massachusetts. Though my boarding school had much more racial diversity than the town I grew up in, students of color only constituted 18% of the student body meaning that my social life was still dominated by whites. Regardless, for the first time in my life I was interacting with students of color on a daily basis in classes, on sports teams, and in the dorm. Individuality was strongly valued at my school, and students were encouraged and welcomed to express themselves free of judgment. Diversity was praised in a general sense, and on one academic day each year classes were cancelled and a conference was held celebrating the diversity on our campus. In our small community everyone accepted for their differences, and everyone was seen as equal.

Throughout my time at boarding school, I was educated on sexual orientation and gender identity numerous times. During my sophomore year, my school even published a “You Can Play” video stating that athletes and coaches were welcomed and respected regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I developed a deeper understanding of different sexual orientations and gender identities while at boarding school because these topics were so frequently and openly discussed. While there was a clear emphasis on ensuring equality for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities, there was no emphasis on equality for students of different racial backgrounds. Race was not openly discussed at my boarding school and because of this, I developed a false perception of race. I assumed that since racial inequality was not discussed it didn’t exist. I was unaware of how race affected people and also unaware of how race affected me.

My boarding school fostered a community in which all individuals were seen as equals. Since there was an emphasis on creating equality for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities, I was able to understand that outside of my boarding school community certain sexual orientations and gender identities were not always perceived equally; and since there was no discussion of racially inequality and no emphasis put on creating equality for individuals of all racial backgrounds, I assumed that all races were perceived equally not only inside my small community but outside as well.

September 2015- Present

In September of 2015 I came to Trinity College thinking I had a good understanding of race, but I soon realized that I had much to learn. I was enrolled in the Color and Money first year seminar where I began reading about and discussing race on a regular basis. At first, I struggled to grasp the concept the racial inequality because I had spent so much of life under the misconception that racial inequality did not exist. In the first few weeks of the semester, I learned about white privilege, a term that refers to the advantages that white people receive because of their race. I was completely in denial about the existence of white privilege, and even more so in denial that white privilege was something that I possessed. I did not feel as though my race had provided me with any privileges or advantages that were not available to people of other racial groups. I had never seen myself as better than or more capable than people of other racial groups. I felt very detached from the idea of white privilege and refused to believe that it was reality.

About half way through the semester, we watched a clip from the video Some Place I Call Home. This video was created in 2007 by a student at Trinity College, and it highlights the racial inequality that occurs on the Trinity College campus. Watching this video was a pivotal moment for me and my understanding of race, racial inequality and white privilege. I was shocked to learn of the racist acts that had occurred at Trinity College as recently as 2007, such as racial slurs being written on dry erase boards belonging to students of color. Later during an in class discussion about the film, I was even more surprised to hear that racist acts and the use of racial slurs continued to be prevalent at Trinity College. For the first time in my life, I felt personally connected to racial issues and racial inequality because I was immersed in a community in which these things not only occurred but were also openly discussed. I could no longer live in denial of the existence of racial inequality or the existence of white privilege.

I left seminar that day feeling upset and confused. I had never had been exposed to racism before, and I didn’t like it. My immediate reaction was to blame Trinity College for making me feel this way. I assumed that racism was an issue only at Trinity College because of the college’s racial and social dynamic, but I still refused to believe that racism was an issue outside of my school. As I walked back to my dorm after seminar that day feeling flustered, I called my parents to share what I had learned with them. I told them that I was in total shock to discover that racist acts occurred at Trinity College and that I couldn’t believe how ignorant and closed minded the community at Trinity College was. Racism had been dead for decades now, why were Trinity students still living in the past? That’s when my parents explained to me that though I may have been unaware of racism in my early life, racism wasn’t just an issue at Trinity; racism was a problem all throughout America. They were shocked that I had never been exposed to racism and explained to me that I had been very sheltered at boarding school. I had a really hard time coming to terms with this fact, but being in Color and Money helped me to understand that I was not alone.

From in class discussions, I learned that many of my white peers were also unaware of the effects of race before coming to Trinity College and participating in the Color and Money seminar. Additionally, one of the assignments for Color and Money consisted of our class interviewing a group of randomly selected sophomores at Trinity College, both white and nonwhite. The sophomores were asked various questions about race and social class and were asked how they believed race and social class affected them at Trinity College and outside of Trinity College. From this assignment, I learned that many of the white students interviewed were also unaware of their white privilege and unaware of how their race affected them on a daily basis. Hearing my classmates and the sophomores we interviewed share their experiences about race helped me to feel less alone as I worked to better understand the challenging topic of race.

Color and Money has changed my overall perspective of race, and it has opened my eyes to the inequalities that are present among different racial groups. I have learned how various racial groups perceive other racial groups. I have also learned more about my own race and how it affects my life everyday. Being part of the dominant racial group in America, I am not negatively affected by my race. I am now aware that my race gives me an advantage over other racial groups, commonly referred to as white privilege. I have realized the importance of race and the importance of discussing race. I also have realized that it is not unusual for white Americans to be unaware of how they are affected by race. With that being said, I realize that Americans need to start having more conversations about race. Had I not taken Color and Money, I would still be living with the misconception that racial inequality ended with Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech. Color and Money has inspired me to speak up about my thoughts on race and to engage others in conversations about race. If we ever want to see a world where racial equality really does exist, we have to keep having conversations about race.

Time To Wake Up

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I never thought too much about race and social class as a young child. In fact, up until about four months ago, I still didn’t think about it in any sort of detailed way. Growing up, I thought that if I just stayed away from talking about both issues, then I wouldn’t get into any uncomfortable situations and could just go about living my life in what I perceived to be a normal way. Coming to Trinity changed all of that.

As I said, I never wanted to talk about these issues because I just wasn’t prepared to. I didn’t want to say anything that could be misconstrued as being racist or elitist, and I certainly did not want to ruffle any feathers with these issues. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, where the state is 94% white. However, I went to private school all my life, so I have been exposed to diverse cultures and people coming from different backgrounds. The school I went to from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then my high school, both prided themselves on having a diverse student body and embracing that diversity. There were plenty of discussions about race, and some about social class at my high school, but I would rarely go to those, and if they were required, would almost never speak. This goes back to not wanting to say anything that might cause controversy. It wasn’t until I came to Trinity that I began to see both issues differently.

Trinity has a lot of white students who come from either middle, upper-middle, and even upper class backgrounds. That, while coming mainly from my observations of daily life at Trinity in my short time here so far, can also be seen by the interviews that our class conducted this past semester. In these interviews, which can only be seen by members of the class, many of the students pointed out how there are a lot of white, upper-middle and upper class students on the campus. This didn’t seem too shocking to anyone, as Trinity attracts this group based on its small, private, liberal arts education, and the straightforward fact that the tuition is set at a very high number, and the admissions committee favors people who can pay full tuition.

This was evidenced by our class’ sit-down with Trinity’s Vice-President for Enrollment and Student Success Angel Perez. In the sit down, many questions were answered by Perez, but the one point that stood out to me was how they prefer families who can pay full tuition, for a multitude of reasons. This stuck with me, as it shows that no matter how great a certain student may be, more often than not, money plays a big role in college admissions, and those that have it tend to fair better than those who don’t.

Angel Perez talks to our Color and Money seminar in late September
Angel Perez talks to our Color and Money seminar in late September.

However, my experiences so far at Trinity have led me to see race in a much different lens, more so than social class, as I already had a general idea of the social class dynamics on this campus. It was with race that my thoughts have changed greatly since coming here.

As mentioned previously, I shied away from conversations when it came to race because I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, and thought that as long as I didn’t say anything I wouldn’t be put under any pressure to speak my mind one way or another. One moment at Trinity changed all of that for the better.

On Monday, November 16, there was a walk-out held on campus where students, regardless of whether they were in class or not, could all meet in the Washington Room above the cafeteria in Mather Hall. I had first heard about this walk-out in my morning class on Monday, when one of the students relayed to the entire class that this would be taking place and to do their best to go to it. When I heard this, I immediately thought that it was a good idea, but I had zero intention of going to it, for many of the same reasons that I never wanted to speak about race while in middle school and high school. That all changed though when I came to our seminar that day, and Professor Dougherty told our class that at noon time we would pack up our things and walk as a class to the Washington Room. I didn’t know what to think, as I now felt uncomfortable in my spot, as I had planned on not going to this, and now our professor mandated that we all go.

As we entered the Washington Room, I didn’t know what to expect, and was certainly nervous for what might happen. What if they call on me? What if I have to say something? What if this, what if that? These were the thoughts rolling through my head as I took my seat in the corner of the room, as far away from the center, where a microphone was set up, as possible. What happened next is how all of these negative thoughts ceased and instead turned into an hour of painful to hear, yet important to listen to, discussion that is the crux for how my perceptions of race have changed since coming to Trinity.

Students putting their notecards in a jar at the "Wake Up World" event on Monday, November 16th, 2015.
Students putting their notecards in a jar at the “Wake Up World” event on Monday, November 16th, 2015.

After handing out notecards to everyone that walked in, the leaders of the discussion wanted people to share a time when they felt prejudiced against and to write that on the front of the notecard, and on the back they wanted suggestions for how to improve the situation. After everyone finished writing, they were encouraged to share their stories with the whole audience, or if they didn’t feel comfortable, could place their notecards in a jar in the middle and have someone else read it for them. Once one person stood up to share their story, many others followed suit, and for the next hour, there were many powerful stories shared. With each story shared, it became clear that Trinity wasn’t everything it was cracked out to be on websites and in pamphlets handed out to prospective families. There are real issues on the campus that need addressing, and this gathering was a good start, but clearly there needs to be more done. While I wish I had all the answers as to what needs to be done to get rid of the racism on this campus, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people who are trying tirelessly to find some solutions. Obviously this is a sensitive issue to people, but measures need to be taken to eradicate the horrible, mean words and issues that take place on this campus on a more often than not basis.

As for me, just being in this seminar has made me more aware of the issues that are taking place on campus. Going to class everyday and reading stories of events that happened on this campus just months ago that I never would have known about otherwise certainly has changed how I see race on this campus. Talking about it every class has also made me feel more comfortable speaking about a topic like this. As I mentioned previously, I was never before comfortable speaking about race because I was afraid of repercussions that might happen if I said something wrong or inconsiderate. After being in this class, I am now able to speak about these issues because I have become more informed and educated about race and its effect on different people on this campus. I have learned a lot being in this seminar, and have acquired new skills, but the ability to now feel comfortable when I’m speaking about sensitive topics, like race, has been the biggest development for me as a person. I’m obviously not the loudest student or the one who will talk the most, but I try to make it more meaningful and have more of an impact when I do speak.

Reflective Essay

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My high shool and Trinity College are polar opposites. My high school was primarily people of color, liberal, and non-affluent. Trinity College is a predominately white, conservative and wealthy institution. In several ways, coming to Trinity was a reverse culture shock. I was always aware of race; it was a topic of discussion amongst my friends in high school and with family members. However, when I came to college something was different. The conversation of race had changed. The democratic opinions of my open-minded high school peers were now harsh conservative slurs from provincial aristocrats. So in order to stay in the racial conversation I signed up to take the first year seminar “Color and Money”, which was about race and social class at Trinity College.
Since taking that course my thoughts of racism have not changed, but my awareness of racism has increased. An example of the racial tension at Trinity that stuck with me happened about one month ago. The cultural houses wanted to show signs of solidarity with schools that had been targeted with racial prejudice, and one of the actions we took was making a BLACK LIVES MATTER banner and hanging it from the beautiful chapel.



Approximately two days later the part of the banner that said BLACK went missing. The sign hanging from the chapel now read LIVES MATTER which was synonymous to the hashtag #AllLivesMatter on social media, created by white people in contrast to the black lives matter movement and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The action of removing the BLACK from the banner was a message to the students of color at Trinity that rang as clear as the bells from the chapel- We don’t matter.


This experience of passive racism shocked me. This vandalism quickly reminded me that this was no longer high school and I was no longer the majority. Trinity College was a completely new, and very different environment and I had to adjust. After the vandalism on the chapel, I started to get very radical ideas about white people and racism. Race ruled my thoughts. I could not experience anything without thinking that race was playing a factor in the situation. I needed an outlet. I began participating in the cultural houses events to discuss this event and other racial topics. The discussions were interesting, but very one sided. Most of the people that would come to these cultural events and discussions were the students of color, and the few white students in attendance would seldom share their opinions. I needed an open forum where I could hear the voices of white students to help myself understand how racism works on the other end of the spectrum. I thought I had found those voices in the students of my first year seminar.

I went to all of my first year seminar classes ready to listen to the white student’s opinions. Every class I hoped to hear some sort of take on race from the white students, but all I heard was a deafening silence that reiterated a point that Beverly Tatum made in her novel, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, the majority never has to explain. It is the people who absolutely cannot avoid race (people of color) who always have to explain and discuss their situations because what they are not perceived as normal.

My seminar was no different than the discussions held by the cultural houses. The conversation in class was dictated by the students of color constantly sharing their opinions, and then there was the occasional white student who shared their opinion. This to me was very discouraging and drove me to more radical thoughts on the progression of racism in our society. Being in a predominantly white environment really drove home the notion that if white people can avoid the topic of race, they will.

Just as I was about to lose all hope on the majority of white students in my class and at Trinity College a white student, who will be referred to as Timothy, in my first year seminar shared his experience with race. Earlier in the semester my entire first year seminar went to a walk out held by the cultural houses. The walk out was an event that was an open forum where students could share their experiences with race on Trinity’s campus. At the walk out they handed everyone an index card and told them to write down an instance of racism that they have experienced on Trinity’s campus. Then, you could have either put the notecard in a jar or read it aloud for everyone to hear. None of the experiences shared were positive.

About a week after the walk out we were in class talking about what we were going to write about for our final papers. Timothy then spoke about his reaction to the walk out. He said that when they asked everyone to write down an experience of racism at Trinity he had nothing to write about. Then, he looked around and saw that every person of color was writing something down, and other white students were looking around because they had nothing to write either. He then he said he realized that in that moment he was the minority, and that this must be how people of color feel almost every day. Then, he spoke about a student named Shawn who shared his experiences on racism. At one point during the time Shawn was sharing, Shawn spoke, in a mocking tone, about a stereotypical Trinity guy (A guy from “just outside of Boston”, drives a very expensive car, wears vineyard vines, wears Patagonia’s, and Sperry’s) and how that stereotype did not in any way apply to him. Timothy said that when Shawn spoke about that stereotype he realized that he had been describing him, and that he felt attacked because he was being generalized by the stereotype of a Trinity guy. He then said he came to the realization that this must be how people of color feel every day. He finished his story by saying that he never would have seen race this way if he did not take this seminar and was forces to go to that walk out. After Timothy had finished his story inspired other white students to share similar stories.

Timothy’s story touched me. It showed that he really was listening to the conversation in class. Timothy’s story made me realize that I was generalizing white people. Hearing Timothy’s story taught me that just because a person is not always participating it does not mean that they are not always learning. Taking this first year seminar allowed me to hear Timothy’s story and if I had not heard his story I would still be having radical ideas about racism. Timothy’s story and my first year seminar gave me hope on the progress of people understanding racism in our country. Just when I thought I was going to leave the conversation of race Timothy and my first year seminar made me stay.

Work Cited
Beverly Daniel Tatum, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations about Race, revised edition (New York: Basic Books, 2003).

Girl Meets World

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When I arrived at Trinity College in August of 2015, I did so with the assumption that my experience here would be fairly similar to what I had experienced in high school in regard to the social climate on campus. Like many other Trinity students, I grew up in a small, almost entirely white, middle class New England town. For eighteen years my world was pleasantly small, and while I enjoyed the comfort my environment provided, I harbored suspicions that my understanding of life beyond the bubble was stunted because of it. With only two students of color in my graduating class of over two hundred students, my exposure to the struggles of other races was supplemented primarily by the news. As a result, such issues seemed important but distant.  I wanted desperately to prove to myself that my homogenous upbringing had not made me close minded or biased so I was delighted by the thought of making new friends of all different races.  In hindsight, perhaps my plucky eagerness to expand my horizons was self centered and blithe.  I had no way of knowing that coming to this environment would not only make me a more cultured and well rounded person as I had hoped, it would expose to me an ugly truth about the frustrations that surround race relations which my new peers had been dealing with for their entire lives.  The last three and a half months have revolutionized the way I perceive race and social class and while I have only begun to make strides toward enlightenment, I am truly grateful that my first exposure to this new environment was guided and enriched by this seminar.

Racism: Oh my gosh, it’s everywhere!
Reading texts like Beverly Tatum’s “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria,” and Stacy Lee’s “Unravelling the Model Minority,” watching documentaries like Skin Deep, and discussing the topic of race at length in our seminar primed me to be more attuned to omnipresent racial subtleties on Trinity’s campus. In this way, our seminar did not just expand the bubble of ignorance that carried me to Trinity, it completely shattered it. I began to notice incidences of racism everywhere I turned. When a group of Black students on the football team walked into the gym to watch the men’s basketball game, I overheard some of the white fraternity brothers in the stands behind me asking who had let the Black students in and making jokes that insinuated the Black students were delinquents. When a Black athlete asked an official to talk to the opposing team about their pregame warm up music, which prominently featured an offensive racial term, the official responded by saying, “Does it really bother you?” A myriad of examples presented themselves during day to day life.  Initially this flood of new insight was met by horror. By the second month of school, I was beginning to think I had unknowingly chosen to attend the single most racist college in the continental United States. Surely racism could not be this prevalent everywhere, right? I was convinced that the social climate on Trinity’s campus, fueled by the school’s location in Hartford, had created a perfect storm of racism making Trinity the pinnacle of social injustice. Deeply dismayed and discouraged by this, I voiced my frustrations to a Black classmate who preceded to inform me that this was not the case. While Trinity certainly has a lot of problems, she said, she and other minority individuals experience racism and micro aggressions all over, not just here.

“Its not a touchy subject, its my life.”
Not only has my experience in this seminar drastically increased my perceptiveness of racism, it has also made me more aware of how people of color feel racism.  I have found the most effective way to increase awareness in this respect is simply to listen to people tell their stories and voice their frustrations. This is exactly what I was able to do on November 16 when our seminar attended the Wake Up World event organized by students of color on Trinity’s campus. The event began with an organized walk out from classes immediately followed by an open mic forum which allowed all students, regardless of race or gender, to share anecdotes and be received in a supportive environment. The stories shared and frustrations voiced at this event were sincere, enlightening, and at times heart wrenching. Many students described how it felt to experience racism and have their struggles invalidated or swept aside because they made others uncomfortable. Such was the case for one Black student who explained the pressure she and other minority students feel to assimilate into the dominant white culture on campus. “I feel like I have to change myself,” she said. “So that people at Trinity will feel better.” Even more frustrating is the fact that when she and other minority students try to voice their opinions regarding race, they are too often dismissed. She explained that the unwillingness of so many people to discuss or even acknowledge the issue is exasperating, saying, “Its not a touchy subject, its my life.” There is a noticeable divide among students of color and white students in the way they perceive issues of race. This divide was particularly evident on homecoming weekend when a Black Lives Matter banner was hung on the chapel as a protest against racism in solidarity with Black students on college campuses around the country.

Photo by Molly Thoms
Photo by Molly Thoms 17′

While many students, some of whom were white, joined the protest by dressing in black and walking out onto the football field at half time, others found it off putting. Some white students resented the hanging of a Black Lives Matter banner on the chapel. Upon seeing the banner, one Trinity freshman said, “That’s horrible. The chapel is the most important building on campus. If they feel that strongly about it, they should hang that on their own frat house.” While there is no such thing as a Black fraternity at Trinity College and the student was likely referring to a cultural house like the Umoja house, statements such as these are an accurate depiction of the ignorance and disregard that many white members of the Trinity community have for issues regarding race. The notion that an oppressive force such as racism is not important enough to be featured on the chapel is reprehensible. For those who admit racism is a pressing issue but would simply prefer our beautiful chapel not be sullied by such a controversial topic, I would encourage you to think of the people who feel the effects of racism daily and do not have the luxury of being able to banish this issue to the corners of their consciousness when it makes them uncomfortable.

“A Fantastic Burden”

During one of our seminar meetings, our student mentor, who was enrolled in this course two years ago during her freshman year, offered some sage advice.  The discussion had wandered from how prevalent racism is to possible solutions and it was beginning to take on a hopeless tone.  Some students echoed suggestions they had heard at the Wake Up World event calling for a course in social justice to be a prerequisite for graduation while others struggled to see how society could ever become untangled from racism.  Sensing the discouragement our mentor took the floor.  She explained that after being heavily invested in this predicament every day for months, after reading books and articles, watching documentaries, attending events, conducting interviews, and discussing our findings at length with our peers we had unknowingly taken on a heavy burden.  Regardless of our race we are now awake to social injustice and have a responsibility to speak out against it.  Though our knowledge is a burden, it is a fantastic burden to carry.


Who is responsible for racism?

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I went to a high school that was predominantly composed of White students. I was the one of the few Asians and the only Chinese at my high school. Most white students at my high school had never talked to any Asians before, except when they went to the Asian market stores. People were curious of me. Since I was still learning and not quite fluent in English, some white students found my pronunciation of words funny. As a student without any distinctive athletic talents and instrumental abilities, I found myself having troubles making friends quickly. I ended up making friends with the kids on the marching band, which was considered “not cool” at that time. Even though I associated closely with my group, the other group, that was mainly composed of affluent white kids with outstanding athletic abilities, treated me nicely as well. With the curiosity about China, they often came to me and asked about things about China. Some example questions are “Do you guys give away computers for free in China?”, “How big is China?”, “do you guys eat cats?”. Overwhelmed by all people with different questions, I was so excited that I did not realize how ridiculous some of those questions were. As people got to know me better, they started to imitating or even exaggerating the way I spoke English. They made fun of my accent mainly to be funny and they thought I wouldn’t mind since I shared good friendships with them. However, my feeling was actually hurt inside, but since I was the only Chinese and a lot of white students were doing the same thing, I just told myself to be tolerant. I attributed all the blames to me because I thought it was my fault to not be able to speak English properly. Life went on. During my senior year in high school, I was finally able to speak English fluently without too much accent. Though, in some days, some of my white friends still made fun of Asian stereotypes at the lunch table. I would mock back at my friends most of the times, but sometimes I would just give them stares because I knew they were just being funny.

students in my grade at my high school
students in my grade at my high school

Looking back at my high school experiences, I see and realize racism I have not noticed at the time, using knowledge of racial identity I have learned from my seminar course “Color and Money”. I recall the times that my white friends made fun of the Asian accents and squinty eyes some Asians have, that some faculty members at school made jokes on some Asian stereotypes and that people kept coming to me with similar questions that they may or not realize are offensive and racist. Three months at Trinity College have rubbed down my edges and crushed out my enthusiasm and optimism of the world being perfectly equal both racially and socioeconomically. Fortunately, my understanding and perception on races and socioeconomic class have been deepened through my seminar course “Color and Money”. One of the books that had the biggest effect on my racial identity is a book called, “Unraveling the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype”. The book mainly focuses on different groups of Asians, and how one group differs from another one. The book is especially inspiring for me because it helps me see the real structure of the whole Asian group. I thus have developed a better sense of racial identity from the book. for the last past three months, instead of becoming more defensive about my race and publicly denouncing racism, I decided to use the knowledge I have learned from my seminar course to observe and figure out the true situations behind the curtain of racism.

I do believe that Asians are the minority group in the U.S., but Asians are definitely not the minority group in the world, for that there are different countries around the world, and different countries have different dominant races. I am an international student from China, where there are also dominant groups and minority groups. In fact, I am of the dominant group in China. During the past year at Trinity, my interactions outside the classroom are mainly with people of my race. I felt excluded when I first arrived at Trinity because none of any white kids had invited me to hang out with them. I felt left out that when everyone else went to the frat parties on Friday nights, none of the people at my floor invited me to tag along. I thought that people were racist and that they did not invite me because of my skin color. After talking to several of my white friends about this issue, I gradually came to the realization that I was wrong. Those of my white friends confessed that they also had trouble making friends at first because freshmen tend to stick with the group that they are already familiar with instead of stepping out of their comfort zones and making new friends. I realized that I was not doing well on my part of trying to make new friends. For instance, Frat parties are usually where people meet people and make new friends, but I don’t like frat parties and always play basketball with my Chinese fellows on Friday nights. Since I don’t go to frat parties, I give up the major opportunity of meeting new people and making friends.

African American students
African American students sit in a big group
Asians sit together at Mather
Asians sit together at Mather

People constantly bring up the Mather issue, which talks how people of different races tend to sit separately at Mather Dining hall. People of color, mainly African American students, on Trinity school campus had organized multiple protests against racism on the college campus. They took the case of Mather issues and encouraged people of color to sit with white students at Mather dining hall. I think it is beneficial for both students of color and white students to get to know each other by sitting together at Mather. However, it is not something that can last. people of different races share different cultural roots, even if they may be born in the same country. people make friends with each other because they share the same interests and point of views. If two people do not share the same interests, sitting together just for the purpose of making Trinity College a “racial friendly” college is not the way to go. I think after devoting all energies towards classes and writing papers, sitting with the people you can easily laugh with is what students wish the most. For example, I am an international Chinese student who was brought up in a conservative environment where academic success is the unquestionable priority. I am not interested in the party culture at all. I enjoy talking to people from different racial or family backgrounds and hearing new things, but at the end of the day, my Chinese friends are who I feel most comfortable to talk to.

With all that being said above, I am not suggesting that racism does not exist at Trinity. However, I personally dislike the idea of frequently having big protests and parades. All the time I have spent at trinity and in my first seminar class has taught me that racism has existed for as long as you could imagine. Instead of being too extreme on criticizing the existence of racism, I think both white people and people of color need to think in each other’s perspective. People keep criticizing white students for not approaching and sitting with students of color during lunch but miss the fact that students of color are lacking the motivations and desires to sit with white students. In Tatum’s book “Why All All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”, Tatum introduces five stages of black racial identity development and six stages of white racial identity development. I think people of color at Trinity are mainly on the internalization stage where they are secure with their racial identity and are willing to make friends with white people who are respectful. Most white students at trinity are between contact stage and disintegration stage. Even though most of them have gone to either boarding school or college prep school, the limited amount of interactions with people of color leads to the lack of awareness on white privilege and racial problems on Trinity Campus. Both white students and students of color need to realize that racism is not caused solely by one group of people. people with different races own responsibilities on the problem of racism.

“Color and Money” has helped me gain a clear self-racial identity. Now equipped with better knowledge of racial identity than ever, I take the great interest of racial problems around the world. Trinity is only a start.

Works Cited
Beverly Daniel Tatum. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria? Basic Books. Print.
Stacy J. Lee. Unraveling the “Model Minority” Stereotype. 2nd ed. Teachers College Press, 2009. Print.


Realizing Privilege

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What’s changed the most since coming to Trinity is my understanding of white privilege. I identify as being a white, Irish Catholic, working- class, straight, woman. When I introduce myself, though, I would never flat out say those things. Before, my socio-economic status became more and more of how I outwardly identified myself. In elementary school I can’t remember knowing class differences because most people at my school and in my town were all of the same (working) class. I don’t ever introduce myself saying that I am from the working class, I don’t think most people would state their socioeconomic status, but I say with pride and confidence that I am from Everett. When I changed schools in sixth grade, because the archdiocese of Boston could no longer afford to keep my school open, I began to realize class differences. I thought the kids from the next town over were a little wealthier, even though they were still middle class. I think I began to be embarrassed. When I went to high school, I went to Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, a private school where the ultra rich can send their kids. I think the shock and realization that I am from a true working class community hit me then. In my early high school years I was embarrassed when kids said I was from the “ghetto”. I didn’t think I was, it was home. I would argue with them over it; defend myself, even though inside I felt uneasy. Now, though, I love where I am from. And in a simple discussion with me, it is easy to tell that I have a passion for economic equality.

Being different from the kids I went to school with made me think of who I was and what class my family was a part of. However, I never had to think about being white. I’m not from an all white community. The city I am from is often described as a gateway city to immigrants. Anyone I’ve ever talked to about Everett has described it as diverse. I went to private school for all of high school, first BB&N then Phillips Academy in Andover, Ma. Both schools, like a lot of institutions now, have achieving diversity a goal on campus. But when you walk around either school, you see mostly white faces. I thought about this in class discussions or conversations with my friends but day-to-day I didn’t need to think about how being white affected my life.

As I got older I started to realize what being white meant. My realization that I have benefitted from white privilege set in before Trinity but got clearer here on campus. One of the best activities we did in this seminar was the privilege walk. Some of the questions, paraphrased, were:

Do you feel safe walking around your neighborhood at night? Can you walk by a group without getting catcalled? Was financial aid a factor in your college decision? Can you walk around campus without getting stopped by campus safety?

The privilege walk made us confront parts of our identities that we may not have felt comfortable reveling to our classmates. Although I will discuss where I live and my social and political beliefs, that most likely expose what class I am a part of, it is for me harder to explicitly say that financial aid was a deciding factor in what college I would attend.

The question about campus safety stuck with me too. Students of color were the majority of who stepped forward, responding that they can’t walk around campus without being stopped by campo. At the time I didn’t realize that this question would reoccur often during my first semester at Trinity- who does campus safety stop and who belongs on campus. The next time I would talk about campus safety was during my sophomore interview. I interviewed Malik (pseudonym). We talked a lot about clothing and what that revels about a person’s race and class. Malik explained to me:

I like putting a hat on and put a hood over but that looks mad suspicious though you know what I’m saying? And like I’m already black and shit so I don’t want people to come and people to be like oh he’s causing trouble over here and then I’ll have to pull out my ID and be like oh I go here. (Malik, 11).

Malik continued to tell me that he wears a backpack when he walks around campus to prove that he is a student and belongs on the Trinity campus. Another student of color talked about her experience, feeling that she didn’t belong at Trinity, at the 2015 class walk out. She explained that she had locked herself out of her dorm and was waiting for campus safety to arrive and let her in. A white, male student was exiting the dorm and the girl asked if he would swipe her in. He said that he could not do that for her. Campus safety came and let her into her room and the girl sat and cried, feeling that because of her race her peer would not let her in the dorm.

I’ve never had anyone question if I belonged at Trinity. Although I sometimes feel like an outsider based on my socioeconomic status, I can choose to disclose that when I please. Being born white has awarded me unearned advantages based on my skin color. I’m not saying I haven’t worked to get good grades or to receive the athletic awards I have gotten. But I have realized that living in America, I have had a much easier life because I am white. Last year a girl posted something about bandaids on her Facebook. The typical skin color bandaid blends into MY pale, Irish skin. But that is not every skin color. To some people that might seem simple. But it shows how I have lived under the cloud of white privilege. I know that I will not be harassed based on my race or targeted by police based on my ethnicity. I don’t have to about pulling my ID out to show campo that I go to Trinity. I have never felt that I am not a part of the class of 2019.

Trinity College Class of 2019, Orientation Week
Trinity College Class of 2019, Orientation Week

That’s Our Guy

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Heading out to journey anywhere with my friends is always an adventure. That being said, I didn’t say the adventures are always positive. Due to the fact that there isn’t much to do in my small town, we usually just hang out at the mall. As boisterous and uncontrollable as my friends are, something bad was bound to happen with five carefree teenage boys strolling through the mall with nothing to do. We made a pit stop in the department store, Sears, just to cut through to get tot the food court and even look around. As always, the clerks were on high alert, as the only real danger to their store is a teenage boy. Along the way, one of my acquaintances, who I’ll no longer refer to as my friend, thought it would be hilarious to steal a cheap cologne bottle. The four of us told him to put it back, but I guess he really needed to have this trophy. Just our luck, as we were leaving the food court, three security guards stopped me and asked me to empty my pockets. I had nothing, but in the bush behind where I was sitting was a small blue bottle of cologne. I looked over at my old acquaintance who just stared blankly. Within two hours, I was in the parking lot with my mom, clear of any charges. Fortunately, my friends backed me up and revealed the real culprit. Even though the real thief was caught, and he would’ve been fine with me taking the blame, I had already moved on. The fact that I was chosen out of my four other friends to be the culprit was the real problem.

I was profiled to be the culprit. My four other friends in vineyard vines and sperry’s couldn’t have been involved right? It must’ve been the big kid in sweatpants and a Kiss Alive II shirt that stole it. He’s got a beard and big zip up, ya, that’s our guy.

I definitely saw myself differently after this. In my mind, I was always the real target. I always think about what I wear when I go out, what will people see in me. Are their assumptions about me necessary to do their job? I knew I couldn’t stroll into a Walmart with baggy sweats and a hood over my head, that would be asking to be watched. Obviously, people have a job to do, and make sure people don’t wrong them. But now I can see where people of color come from. They can’t enter a place and leave their skin color at the door. Stereotypes put targets on their backs, and it’s something that they can’t escape. For all of this time I thought I was the real target, but now I can see how sheltered I was from what’s really going on.

From 1997 to 2015, I’ve lived extremely comfortably. Sure, terrorism and gun violence have been frequently used terms during my short lifetime, but it’s never bothered me. Racism has been a carefully used term until fairly recently, when my eyes started to open. It might have something to do that I’m 18 years old and still growing from a kid into an adult. It could be because I’ve been shielded my entire life from the negativity I see today. Or, it can be attributed to the growing public awareness of such things, to bring to light what is really going on in our country.

Amid news reports of police violence and a #blacklivesmatter campaign, I still wasn’t fully convinced that these events warranted a public outbreak. Although, the flow was constant; it seems that every day somebody was killed on the basis of race. I was seeing a country that just needed to calm down a little. The microcosm of my world, Trinity College, forced me to see what I’d forever put in the rear view mirror.

I was convinced of what I know now after a 28 degree five am trash pickup with my brothers on the football team. We’d been assigned stations along campus, splitting us into groups chosen for us. Although we’re all brothers on the team, we tend to separate into little groups. The athletes of color often associate with other athletes of color, and it doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t associate with us white guys. It’s they way things are. My squad was assigned to a portion of Vernon Street, the main road running through campus. It’s early, still dark with the sun on the rise, and  a group of bundled up football players trudging through leaves grabbing trash. We weren’t making a scene, but we did catch the attention of campus safety officers on duty. As they raced up the street, me and four white students were passed over. But, twenty yards ahead, the three black students on my team were stopped and questioned. I had just witnessed what I had nearly denied the past couple of years in my life.

Nothing came of it, the officer just stopped to ask sternly what they were doing and why. They obviously knew they were targeted, and joked about the instance later about why they were targeted, but this stuck with me. We were actively doing a nice thing for the campus, and the guys were still mistaken for criminals. This young students, at an elite liberal arts school, literally cannot leave their rooms without facing some kind of judgement. How are we not passed that yet?

In our seminar, there has been a lot of discussion on our own issues with campus safety. I absolutely would not have been able to contribute if it wasn’t for my experience on Vernon. During the walk out on campus, students highlighted the mistrust campus safety had for them. Students were unable to enter their own dorms, where they live, unless the presented an ID. Other students were constantly mistaken for a “Hartford Local” because they were a black male.

Shannon described her own feelings in our seminar when she hears the term “Hartford Local.” I’ve never really seen it as a derogatory term until she spoke up. The fact is, Shannon is a Hartford local. A well known Trinity student athlete who has every right to be here is an actual resident of the city of Hartford. This put a face to what me and other people were saying. We see males of color on campus as violent and harmful. Of course there have been incidents that need to be addressed, but it’s a shame that a student who is the same as me and has the same rights to be where I am, maybe even more qualified, is facing this kind of adversity.

Trinity has helped me grow in my first semester because it is a microcosm of what is really going on. Yes, times have changed, and I thought we were done. It’s become extremely evident in recent months that we aren’t done with this racism. If a student of color can’t enter his/ her dorm without a second thought, and the innocent black teenager is shot because he “Fits a profile,” we clearly aren’t done. Although all of this has just recently come to my attention, I truly do now stand for the equal rights of everyone. We have to get rid of the stigma surrounding people of color, or wait until another civil war. It might sound extreme, but for this to go on for as long as it has is pathetic. We can say that America is a free country for everyone, but as we might be farther along than some other countries, it’s still time to shape up.

Ignorance is Bliss

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My friend posted on my Facebook wall “Stop it >.<” and, of course, my grandma (Paulette) liked the post.

My Facebook wall
My Facebook wall

I saw her over Thanksgiving break and asked her why she specifically liked that status. As it turns out, she thought he was telling me to stop posting about the Black Lives Matter events and discrimination going on around college campuses (which is not what his post intentions were). I asked her why she wanted me to stop posting about those (relevant) topics, and her response was that I shouldn’t get involved in those kinds of things. I thought to myself, “Well damn, if I don’t get involved then who else will,” but of course I couldn’t say that to my grandma. She felt that me getting involved was putting me in unnecessary danger and making me look bad in front of my Trinity peers. What she didn’t realise was that many of the Trinity students of color and students of color from back home were posting and expressing solidarity. For her, my actions were unnecessary, even dangerous, but for me it was a small way of recognizing the great amount of injustice still going on.

When asked if my perception about race and social class has changed since coming to Trinity, everything tells me I should say yes just to get a good grade, but in all honesty, my perception has never really changed. As a woman of color who went to boarding school in Connecticut, I believe that my thinking has not changed, but rather more sensitized since coming to Trinity. In my senior year of high school, many of the Black Lives Matter protests had begun to spread around the U.S., students even held a die-in in order to raise awareness on our campus. Since coming here and witnessing the solidarity for schools such as Mizzou and Yale, I began to notice a lot of the backlash coming from white students on campus who were uncomfortable with even talking about these events. For me, this amount of backlash was unheard of, even coming from my predominantly white, extremely small private school. This was college freedom in action, where you can get away with being extremely ignorant, even at a small liberal arts college.

Beverly Tatum, a psychologist, ethnographer, and a mother, wrote a section in her text, “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria…” that still follows me to this day. Tatum describes a moment where her son Jonathan came home asking questions about his race. “One day, as we drove home from the daycare center, Jonathan said, ‘Eddie says my skin is brown because I drink too much chocolate milk. Is that true?’ Eddie was a white three-year-old in Jonathan’s class who, like David, had observed a physical difference and was now searching for an explanation,” (Tatum, 33). At home, I have a brother (7y/o) and a sister (5y/o) who are both currently in elementary school. Her reflection made me feel conflicted because on one hand, I’m extremely curious to hear what my brother and sister know about race how they feel. On the other hand, I want to leave them with their childlike, ignorant bliss intact until they observe the differences themselves. Tatum forced me to think about the time I realized the difference between myself and others, but I think I always knew. I went to a predominantly black private school preschool and elementary school in Brooklyn. I remember the one white kid in my class who probably felt out of place, but again maybe he didn’t (thank you ignorant bliss). The rest of us knew, obviously, but we never thought anything of it. I still wonder if he ever realized. 

Instead of change, I think sensitized is a good word, because all too often we become desensitized to things that should really make us think and believe “Wow, that is really f-d up”. I have increasingly thought more and more about my place in the world and how I fit into the puzzle of college. All too often I find myself ignorant to the matters going on outside of the College because of the bubble that we live in. (Side-note: to those who don’t believe we aren’t in a bubble, watch how people talk about the “Hartford locals” as if we all don’t currently live in Hartford as well.) Because of this bubble, and my inherent ignorance, I feel like by the time I should already know about the important events going on outside of Trinity, the time to care is long gone. If I am lucky enough to find out about things like Mizzou early on, usually I have to explain the details of the event to my whole friend group. This in itself is baffling to me because 80-85% of my friend group is comprised of students of color, yet there have been moments during dinner in Mather where I was the only one aware of the protests and injustices off campus.

When I think about it, my views on Trinity have probably changed from the beginning of the year to now. When first coming, I was never really nervous about race and social class because I felt like it would be pretty similar to boarding school. I already had the preconceived notion that the majority of the population would be made up of upper class white kids who are basking in their privilege. I think what shocked me was how ignorant some of those students were. When coming, I figured that by the time people were old and mature enough to go to college, people would have learned the difference between genuinely trying to understand race/social class relations and being blatantly disrespectful. Our school hosted a solidarity event on our football field, letting people know that we stand in solidarity with the other students of color who feel discriminated against in their respective schools. The Solidarity on the Field event was followed by a walk-out event that led to a discussion about race on our campus. “Wake Up World” was an event built around audience participation, where students could speak their experiences in the center of the room. People had the opportunity to write down any personal experiences of discrimination that they have witnessed personally. Those who did not want to share, like myself, had the opportunity to place the opinions into a jar in the center of the circle. This in itself was beautiful. Those who wanted to have their voices heard, but did not have the courage to speak, could still ultimately have their opinion shared. To me, the most powerful moment was towards the end when the crowd began to dwindle at around 1:00PM. During the event, people had the opportunity to share some very personal experiences. There would be a pause after a person finished speaking, as people were questioning whether or not to share. After a while it started getting close to the time my next class started and I decided not to stay. As I was leaving, I turned around and saw a line of people waiting to share their experiences or other experiences that people put into the jar.

Students lining up at the Wake Up World event
Students lining up at the Wake Up World event

The picture shows a student being comforted after breaking down talking about her experiences.The amount of love and acceptance I felt at that moment was immeasurable.

So does this mean Trinity is a bad place? Not at all. Obviously, there are things that should be changed because no college is perfect. What it does mean, however, is that I am aware of the prejudices against me, and that I am prepared to stand against it. Trinity has a problem with educating students on life. They prefer teaching the dead white guys taught in philosophy classes over teaching about social issues. In my eyes, the conversation can only get better when everyone is informed.

Works Cited

Beverly Daniel Tatum. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race. 5th Anniv., Revised edition. New York: Basic Books, 2003.