Welcome back to For the Culture where I discuss various topics regarding minorities in an attempt to educate those who should learn more about the world outside of the one they were born into.
College is naturally a melting pot of different people and backgrounds. Entering my third year at Northwest, I’ve had both negative and positive interactions meeting people from backgrounds as colorful as a piece of notebook paper. It’s interesting to witness how white people interact differently with people of color because they don’t know how to approach them.
Leaving the most diverse high school in Missouri to attend school in northwestern Missouri was somewhat of a culture shock. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who had never spoken to or even seen a person of color before college.
This information was strange to me because I felt like Northwest wasn’t the place to diversify my friend group. However, I’ve encountered multiple people who have experienced more backgrounds in one semester than they have their entire life.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, how can I prove I’m not racist? I’m not racist,” I think I can help you.
Try to get to know people who don’t look like you. I watched a Ted Talk presentation from Daryl Davis about how he attended Ku Klux Klan rallies for years in order to learn why Klan members were so opposed to Black people. He sat through white men calling him the n-word and explaining how white people are the superior race. If you think I’m lying, you can watch the presentation yourself.
The most important takeaway from his lecture was education over isolation. He went into uncomfortable territory and confronted the issue of racism through the lens of love instead of hatred. He could’ve easily charged into the rallies with rage, but his message would’ve fueled the fire of hatred toward black people and potentially gotten him killed. Although he didn’t disband any chapters, he established an understanding between two opposing people.
Don’t try and prove yourself to us. Yes, minorities would love the support of white people and to know we have allies, but we don’t need you to parade it like you’re the hero we need. Additionally, playing ‘our’ music for us or speaking ‘like us’ is one of the easiest ways to kill a friendship before it starts.
Honestly, we just want somebody who will hear us out and support us in our fight against centuries of racism in America. In relation to my last point, sitting down and learning how someone works as a human is more important than trying to impress them.
Don’t point out how different we are because we already know. Chances are the person of color you’re trying to befriend is skeptical on how you feel about their skin color. Don’t take this personally because we have been attacked for it, so it’s somewhat of a safeguard to keep us from the racially insensitive individuals. There’s a simple way to fix this — treat us like any other normal human.
There’s many ways to go about talking to and meeting people of color. There are obviously do’s and don'ts, but that goes with any social interaction. Simply be a good person, and you can get along with anybody with a darker complexion this semester.