Racism Still Lives in State College
On Saturday, October 29, 2016 I have encountered my first blatant racist comment. It was weird because I have never experienced such outright disrespect. Racism is something I only read in the history books, and seen in the movies, and heard from my parents. But to witness it right before my eyes? And be frustrated because you don’t know what to do? Yes, that was me just a few days ago.
My roommate invited over a friend who was a white male. This man also brought over two of his friends (who looked just like him). I was in my room getting dressed while the man’s two friends were right outside my room window. They were on the porch conversing, and I could hear them loud and clear because my window was open. They couldn’t see me because I had a dark curtain covering my window. These two drunken men were saying inappropriate things about my roommates like, “I’ve been trying to work the blonde one over for two hours she’s not budging bro.” “Dude just give her about 30 minutes, you can take her home by then, it’ll be easy.” “I’m just trying to take her home bro, she’s not giving me any play.”
I dismissed the rest of their comments as they exchanged some more sexual innuendo with each other. While I’m texting my girls in a group chat telling them what I just heard, I walk back over to my window to hear more.
“Are there people in there already?” “Yea it’s a nigger in there.” A what?! I could not believe what I just heard. “Yea it’s a nigger sitting on the couch.” Now I know I heard that correctly, because he just repeated himself.
At this point I’m livid, I’m hurt, and I’m angry.
I immediately text my friends in the group chat “Wya.” My roommate comes to my room to get me, and brings me to her room. We passed by our friend sitting on the couch, the black man that those two boys were referring to. Now the guy who my roommate brought over is standing with her as I explain to all of them what I just heard.
He says “I’m sorry, let me just go outside and talk to my friends for a minute.” I replied with, “Yes, you should. Because if they were referring to me or my friend sitting on the couch it’s going to be a serious problem.”
I had no intentions on confronting these two white boys, but when I came out of my room they immediately approached me with ignorance. One of the two guys said to me, “I just want you to know that we didn’t mean anything by it, and we’re not racist.”
Pause. Now this is where I get heated. “Then what exactly did you mean by it? If you aren’t racist why would you say that term? I don’t care whether you’re racist or not, drunk or sober, you’re not going to come into my apartment or anywhere near me and say that disrespectful term. Period.”
“Miss, I assure that me and my friends aren’t racist. Why are you getting mad? It’s not a big deal.”
“I’m not a dumb black girl. Don’t sit here and act like I’m stupid because of my skin color. You’re trying to justify what you said by saying you’re not racist. You not being racist doesn’t allow you to say that term. Not one time did you say sorry, or even admit to doing it. Bottom line is, it’s very disrespectful to my people so do not say it ever again. If you don’t like it you can leave.”
I storm back into my room. All I hear in the background is my friend yelling at the white guys, telling them to get out. She says, “It’s time for you all to leave, you disrespected my friend and I don’t tolerate that at all. Don’t even worry about the door I got it.” That’s when I hear the door slam shut.
A couple of phone calls later, my friend comes into my room to check on me. She asks if I’m okay and assured me that she will always have her friends’ backs in situations like this. Mind you, my friend is Puerto Rican and Haitian. It meant so much to me that even though that term didn’t blatantly offend her, she decided to stand up for what was right.
I soon realized in the midst of my conversation with those white males, that they are too privileged to even understand my emotions for that term. It was no point in arguing with ignorant white boys who will never get it.
Now I realize that my first hand experience with racism has been eye opening. Can you believe that subtle racism still exist? I still can’t even believe that these people really tried to justify that racial term as if I’m not educated enough to know what they meant. It’s safe to say that if I was in their presence, they would have never even uttered that racial slur. So now that we’ve endured this long, tiresome presidential election, how does that impact the racial experiences we deal with now? It seems that some white people are already very comfortable with the racial slurs, stereotypes, and accusations of minorities in this country. From my perspective, uttering racial slurs behind closed doors may now turn into something much bigger. Something much more violent.