I am a 19-year-old, black heterosexual woman. I rarely go downtown to party, but whenever I do, I don’t typically find a lot of overt racism. There are subtle things, like being ignored at the bar or when I order a water, a waitress assuming that I don’t want to order anything else, but normally, the majority of racist encounters I have are on the school’s grounds.
The day I moved into the dorms and was using the downstairs bathroom, I was asked if I went to Georgia College and before I could answer, told that “mocals” weren’t allowed to be in the school’s buildings and that I should leave before anyone “caught” me.
Three days after that incident, at a Week of Welcome event, I won a free T-shirt and as I went up to claim it, I was asked by another winner of a T-shirt if I “actually won that shirt” or was I “just taking it because nobody was looking.” I was so surprised and hurt by that girl’s words that I had no idea what to say or do. I froze and didn’t even have a chance to grab my shirt because I wanted to cry so badly.
Never in my life have I seen so many people who think it is OK to say things about people or discriminate based on what somebody looked like as I have at Georgia College.
In one of my first classes as a freshman, a girl was talking to the class about how she didn’t think it was fair for minorities to have affirmative action within Georgia College, because “half of the black students here are only here on sports scholarships and don’t deserve to be here as much as white students who work hard.”
I could not believe her words, but then another student in my class turned to me and asked me, the only person of color within the class, what my grades and SAT scores were, as though it was any of his business what my credentials were to get into Georgia College. I told him what they were, 3.7 and 1990, respectively and he acted surprised and asked me “How did you have time to study with all the basketball practice?” I am extremely uncoordinated and have never been good at any sport, let alone basketball. I told him such, and he turned bright pink and didn’t say another word to me that semester.
Am I saying that all of these people are racists? Absolutely not. But what they are guilty of is judging me before they got to know me; they took one look at my exterior and thought they knew the sum of who I am and what I stand for.
It is unfortunate that there are discrepancies on who can go into a bar without paying or what you have to wear if you’re a certain color, but I think it is important to look within ourselves before we look to change others.
We, as bobcats, need to recognize the diversity around us and embrace it and learn to understand that the differences we have in hair, skin color and ideology are what make us unique individuals.
Give someone you wouldn’t normally sit with a chance to tell you what they’ve been through or ask someone who looks differently what they like to do; you never know where your next best friend will come from.
It is important to strive for equality in treatment across the board, but I think the GC community as a whole would benefit from some good ol’ fashioned compassion and understanding for our fellow man.