Summary Of Video: As an Afro-Latina women attending a PWI (predominantly white institute), I have noticed that I often feel misunderstood and alone. After talking about this issue with a few of my close friends and other minorities that attend my school, I soon realized that I was not the only one experiencing this. Consequently, after learning that this was a universal issue among many minorities, I wanted to know why this problem still exists.
MY BEAUTIFUL QUESTION…
How does a predominantly white private school affect the mental health/well-being of minorities?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
Although this school experience is hard to hear about, unfortunately, it is not unique. While doing research, I have learned that for minorities, when they attend a PWI, they have more challenges than just the academic rigor of their school. Additionally, the challenges they face often go over the heads of their white peers.
“The challenges result from having to develop relationships with persons with whom they may have had limited or no contact, learning new values and mores that govern social interactions and the exchange of information, learning different ways of communicating with others, and finding resources that allow them to meet personal needs (i.e., hair care products, cultural foods, places of worship) among others.”www.bsu.edu
A Student Perspective
In my interview with Haime, she began to share how a PWI has made her aware of the subtle microaggressions and inequality that happen in everyday life. Addionally, she explained how once a PWI is done praising you for what they need, such as advertising, you then are overlooked and your needs do not matter.
“Overall, my time at Head-Royce has been a roller coaster. They’ve taught me to be independent and explore new parts of myself while also setting unrealistic expectations for students, leading to anxiety and stress. Also, being a minority on campus is overlooked, as privilege is tossed left and right towards me and many of my friends on campus. Head-Royce promotes their diversity through pictures on their website but in real life, you don’t see much of it. However, there are a few teachers that take their time to understand and support minorities, such as myself, and help us use our voice. I’m thankful for those specific teachers.”
In my interview with Ivan, he shared how his personal experience attending a PWI has made him wonder how far the United States has really come. Although we are often taught that the U.S. has changed dramatically since its days of Jim Crow and Slavey, the private school experience has taught him that the systemic oppression is still very real and present. During his interview, he explained how the students, especially minorities, are being treated within the community.
“Students [are] feeling ignored … powerless, [and] are looking for an outlet to speak out about the issues they face at the school. Over the past few years, the administration has failed to address issues of students saying racial slurs, faculty not being held accountable for placing students of color in uncomfortable positions, and not addressing the culture which Head-Royce possesses as a private institution which does not support its minority students. In spite of concerns from students and faculty, the school continues to boast about the school’s “diversity” and system which claims to support students of color and those with intersecting identities.”
Looking back on my experience, I have realized that although Head-Royce has been academically and emotionally challenging for me, I have learned how to accept myself and understand my identity. At Head-Royce, I have been placed in many difficult circumstances that have lead me to feel isolated, alone, and sometimes even wishing that I had not been born a minority. Nevertheless, after overcoming those difficult circumstances with the help of my friends and other minorities, I am not extremely grateful to have strengthened my appreciation for who I am, deepened my understanding of my rich history as an Afro-Latina woman, and now having an unbreakable bond between me and the other minorities within my PWI. I also wanted to share a quote that I felt represented my experience at Head-Royce.
“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”Ralph W. Sockman
For Now Response: What Can We As A Community Do?
The main goal with my “For Now Response” is to create conversation and help raise awareness. The two steps that I have listed below, I believe will help everyone move towards starting a conversation around this issue.
1. Confront and Overcome Your Basis
STEP ONE: Move Away From Denial STEP TWO: Move Towards Your Basis STEP THREE: Speak Up and Advocate For Those Who Can’t
2. Speak Up and Speak Out!
After speaking with many other minorities that have/had attended a PWI, the most important thing for them was to have their voices and opinions be heard. If you are in the position of privilege, you need to Speak Up and Speak Out for those who do not have the privilege of being heard.
How Will You Continue This Conversation?
After sharing my research and thoughts on this topic, I am excited to see how you will continue this conversation. Addionally, I would love to know what other issues, related to minorities and PWI’s, people need to be exposed to.
To help me with this, I would love if you could answer a few questions.
- Were you already aware of this issue? If so, how did you become educated?
- How do you feel after hearing about the multiple experiences that students of color are facing at PWI’s? Does this motivate you to help advocate?
- Have you ever reached out to the people of color in your school community? If not, would you now consider it?
Also, feel free to start a new conversation down in the comments.